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Title: Cossack Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
Author: Bain, R. Nisbet (Robert Nisbet), 1854-1909 [Translator], Nisbet, Noel L. (Noel Laura), 1887-1956 [Illustrator]
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cossack Fairy Tales and Folk Tales" ***

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_Uniform with this Volume_


From the Skazki of Polevoi. By
R. NISBET BAIN. Illustrated in
Colour and Black and White by

PAGE 79]





  Introduction                                                 9
  Oh: The Tsar of the Forest                                  15
  The Story of the Wind                                       29
  The Voices at the Window                                    49
  The Story of Little Tsar Novishny, the False Sister, and
      the Faithful Beasts                                     57
  The Vampire and St Michael                                  83
  The Story of Tremsin, the Bird Zhar, and Nastasia, the
      Lovely Maid of the Sea                                  95
  The Serpent-Wife                                           105
  The Story of Unlucky Daniel                                111
  The Sparrow and the Bush                                   123
  The Old Dog                                                129
  The Fox and the Cat                                        133
  The Straw Ox                                               139
  The Golden Slipper                                         147
  The Iron Wolf                                              159
  The Three Brothers                                         167
  The Tsar and the Angel                                     173
  The Story of Ivan and the Daughter of the Sun              183
  The Cat, the Cock, and the Fox                             191
  The Serpent-Tsarevich and His Two Wives                    197
  The Origin of the Mole                                     207
  The Two Princes                                            211
  The Ungrateful Children and the Old Father Who Went to
      School Again                                           219
  Ivan the Fool and St Peter's Fife                          229
  The Magic Egg                                              239
  The Story of the Forty-First Brother                       255
  The Story of the Unlucky Days                              261
  The Wondrous Story of Ivan Golik and the Serpents          267


  They came to the place where he had left her      Frontispiece
  All manner of evil powers walked abroad                     16
  "How much do you want for that horse?"                      24
  The wind came and swept all his corn away                   30
  "Out of the drum, my henchmen!"                             40
  The Tsarivna arose from her coffin                          86
  They were both on their knees                               90
  Daniel waved his sword                                     114
  His wife caressed and wheedled him                         118
  The girl drove the heifer out to graze                     148
  The Tsar's councillors went to the houses of all
      the nobles and princes                                 154
  The Tsar went about inquiring of his people if
      any were wronged                                       178
  The rulers of Hell laid hands upon the overseer
      straightway                                            186
  Nineteen times did she cast off one of her suits
      of clothes                                             198
  Suddenly St Peter appeared to him                          230
  Ivan Golik drew the bow                                    276


The favourable reception given to my volume of _Russian Fairy Tales_
has encouraged me to follow it up with a sister volume of stories
selected from another Slavonic dialect extraordinarily rich in
folk-tales--I mean Ruthenian, the language of the Cossacks.

Ruthenian is a language intermediate between Russian and Polish, but
quite independent of both. Its territory embraces, roughly speaking,
that vast plain which lies between the Carpathians, the watershed of
the Dnieper, and the Sea of Azov, with Lemberg and Kiev for its chief
intellectual centres. Though it has been rigorously repressed by the
Russian Government, it is still spoken by more than twenty millions of
people. It possesses a noble literature, numerous folk-songs, not
inferior even to those of Serbia, and, what chiefly concerns us now, a
copious collection of justly admired folk-tales, many of them of great
antiquity, which are regarded, both in Russia and Poland, as quite
unique of their kind. Mr Ralston, I fancy, was the first to call the
attention of the West to these curious stories, though the want at
that time of a good Ruthenian dictionary (a want since supplied by the
excellent lexicon of Zhelekhovsky and Nidilsky) prevented him from
utilizing them. Another Slavonic scholar, Mr Morfill, has also
frequently alluded to them in terms of enthusiastic but by no means
extravagant praise.

The three chief collections of Ruthenian folk-lore are those of
Kulish, Rudchenko, and Dragomanov, which represent, at least
approximately, the three dialects into which Ruthenian is generally
divided. It is from these three collections that the present selection
has been made. Kulish, who has the merit of priority, was little more
than a pioneer, his contribution merely consisting of some dozen
_kazki_ (_Märchen_) and _kazochiki_ (_Märchenlein_), incorporated in
the second volume of his _Zapiski o yuzhnoi Rusi_ ("Descriptions of
South Russia," Petrograd, 1856-7). Twelve years later Rudchenko
published at Kiev what is still, on the whole, the best collection of
Ruthenian folk-tales, under the title of _Narodnuiya Yuzhnorusskiya
Skazki_ ("Popular South Russian Folk-tales"). Like Lïnnröt among the
Finns, Rudchenko took down the greater part of these tales direct from
the lips of the people. In a second volume, published in the following
year, he added other stories gleaned from various minor manuscript
collections of great rarity. In 1876 the Imperial Russian Geographical
Society published at Kiev, under the title of _Malorusskiya Narodnuiya
Predonyia i Razkazui_ ("Little-Russian Popular Traditions and Tales"),
an edition of as many manuscript collections of Ruthenian folk-lore
(including poems, proverbs, riddles, and rites) as it could lay its
hands upon. This collection, though far less rich in variants than
Rudchenko's, contained many original tales which had escaped him, and
was ably edited by Michael Dragomanov, by whose name, indeed, it is
generally known.

The present attempt to popularize these Cossack stories is, I
believe, the first translation ever made from Ruthenian into
English. The selection, though naturally restricted, is fairly
representative; every variety of folk-tale has a place in it, and it
should never be forgotten that the Ruthenian _kazka_ (_Märchen_),
owing to favourable circumstances, has managed to preserve far more of
the fresh spontaneity and naïve simplicity of the primitive folk-tale
than her more sophisticated sister, the Russian _skazka_. It is
maintained, moreover, by Slavonic scholars that there are peculiar
and original elements in these stories not to be found in the
folk-lore of other European peoples; such data, for instance, as the
magic handkerchiefs (generally beneficial, but sometimes, as in the
story of Ivan Golik, terribly baleful), the demon-expelling
hemp-and-tar whips, and the magic cattle-teeming egg, so mischievous
a possession to the unwary. It may be so, but, after all that Mr
Andrew Lang has taught us on the subject, it would be rash for any
mere philologist to assert positively that there can be anything
really new in folk-lore under the sun. On the other hand, the
comparative isolation and primitiveness of the Cossacks, and their
remoteness from the great theatres of historical events, would seem
to be favourable conditions both for the safe preservation of old
myths and the easy development of new ones. It is for professional
students of folk-lore to study the original documents for themselves.

                                                          R. N. B.


The olden times were not like the times _we_ live in. In the olden
times all manner of Evil Powers[1] walked abroad. The world itself was
not then as it is now: now there are no such Evil Powers among us.
I'll tell you a _kazka_[2] of Oh, the Tsar of the Forest, that you may
know what manner of being he was.

   [1] _Div._ This ancient, untranslatable word (comp. Latin _deus_) is
       probably of Lithuanian origin, and means any malefic power.

   [2] A folk-tale; Russ. _skazka_, Ger. _Märchen_.


Once upon a time, long long ago, beyond the times that we can call to
mind, ere yet our great-grandfathers or their grandfathers had been
born into the world, there lived a poor man and his wife, and they had
one only son, who was not as an only son ought to be to his old father
and mother. So idle and lazy was that only son that Heaven help him!
He would do nothing, he would not even fetch water from the well, but
lay on the stove all day long and rolled among the warm cinders. If
they gave him anything to eat, he ate it; and if they didn't give him
anything to eat, he did without. His father and mother fretted sorely
because of him, and said, "What are we to do with thee, O son? for
thou art good for nothing. Other people's children are a stay and a
support to their parents, but thou art but a fool and dost consume our
bread for naught." But it was of no use at all. He would do nothing
but sit on the stove and play with the cinders. So his father and
mother grieved over him for many a long day, and at last his mother
said to his father, "What is to be done with our son? Thou dost see
that he has grown up and yet is of no use to us, and he is so foolish
that we can do nothing with him. Look now, if we can send him away,
let us send him away; if we can hire him out, let us hire him out;
perchance other folk may be able to do more with him than we can." So
his father and mother laid their heads together, and sent him to a
tailor's to learn tailoring. There he remained three days, but then he
ran away home, climbed up on the stove, and again began playing with
the cinders. His father then gave him a sound drubbing and sent him to
a cobbler's to learn cobbling, but again he ran away home. His father
gave him another drubbing and sent him to a blacksmith to learn
smith's work. But there too he did not remain long, but ran away home
again, so what was that poor father to do? "I'll tell thee what I'll
do with thee, thou son of a dog!" said he. "I'll take thee, thou lazy
lout, into another kingdom. There, perchance, they will be able to
teach thee better than they can here, and it will be too far for thee
to run home." So he took him and set out on his journey.

They went on and on, they went a short way and they went a long way,
and at last they came to a forest so dark that they could see neither
earth nor sky. They went through this forest, but in a short time they
grew very tired, and when they came to a path leading to a clearing
full of large tree-stumps, the father said, "I am so tired out that I
will rest here a little," and with that he sat down on a tree-stump
and cried, "Oh, how tired I am!" He had no sooner said these words
than out of the tree-stump, nobody could say how, sprang such a
little, little old man, all so wrinkled and puckered, and his beard
was quite green and reached right down to his knee.--"What dost thou
want of me, O man?" he asked.--The man was amazed at the strangeness
of his coming to light, and said to him, "I did not call thee;
begone!"--"How canst thou say that when thou didst call me?" asked the
little old man.--"Who art thou, then?" asked the father.--"I am Oh,
the Tsar of the Woods," replied the old man; "why didst thou call me,
I say?"--"Away with thee, I did not call thee," said the man.--"What!
thou didst not call me when thou saidst 'Oh'?"--"I was tired, and
therefore I said 'Oh'!" replied the man.--"Whither art thou going?"
asked Oh.--"The wide world lies before me," sighed the man. "I am
taking this sorry blockhead of mine to hire him out to somebody or
other. Perchance other people may be able to knock more sense into him
than we can at home; but send him whither we will, he always comes
running home again!"--"Hire him out to me. I'll warrant I'll teach
him," said Oh. "Yet I'll only take him on one condition. Thou shalt
come back for him when a year has run, and if thou dost know him
again, thou mayst take him; but if thou dost not know him again, he
shall serve another year with me."--"Good!" cried the man. So they
shook hands upon it, had a good drink to clinch the bargain, and the
man went back to his own home, while Oh took the son away with him.

Oh took the son away with him, and they passed into the other world,
the world beneath the earth, and came to a green hut woven out of
rushes, and in this hut everything was green; the walls were green and
the benches were green, and Oh's wife was green and his children were
green--in fact, everything there was green. And Oh had water-nixies
for serving-maids, and they were all as green as rue. "Sit down now!"
said Oh to his new labourer, "and have a bit of something to eat." The
nixies then brought him some food, and that also was green, and he ate
of it. "And now," said Oh, "take my labourer into the courtyard that
he may chop wood and draw water." So they took him into the courtyard,
but instead of chopping any wood he lay down and went to sleep. Oh
came out to see how he was getting on, and there he lay a-snoring.
Then Oh seized him, and bade them bring wood and tie his labourer fast
to the wood, and set the wood on fire till the labourer was burnt to
ashes. Then Oh took the ashes and scattered them to the four winds,
but a single piece of burnt coal fell from out of the ashes, and this
coal he sprinkled with living water, whereupon the labourer
immediately stood there alive again and somewhat handsomer and
stronger than before. Oh again bade him chop wood, but again he went
to sleep. Then Oh again tied him to the wood and burnt him and
scattered the ashes to the four winds and sprinkled the remnant of the
coal with living water, and instead of the loutish clown there stood
there such a handsome and stalwart Cossack[3] that the like of him can
neither be imagined nor described but only told of in tales.

   [3] _Kozak_, a Cossack, being the ideal human hero of the Ruthenians,
       just as a _bogatyr_ is a hero of the demi-god type, as the name

There, then, the lad remained for a year, and at the end of the year
the father came for his son. He came to the self-same charred stumps
in the self-same forest, sat him down, and said, "Oh!" Oh immediately
came out of the charred stump and said, "Hail! O man!"--"Hail to thee,
Oh!"--"And what dost thou want, O man?" asked Oh.--"I have come," said
he, "for my son."--"Well, come then! If thou dost know him again, thou
shalt take him away; but if thou dost not know him, he shall serve
with me yet another year." So the man went with Oh. They came to his
hut, and Oh took whole handfuls of millet and scattered it about, and
myriads of cocks came running up and pecked it. "Well, dost thou know
thy son again?" said Oh. The man stared and stared. There was nothing
but cocks, and one cock was just like another. He could not pick out
his son. "Well," said Oh, "as thou dost not know him, go home again;
this year thy son must remain in my service." So the man went home

The second year passed away, and the man again went to Oh. He came to
the charred stumps and said, "Oh!" and Oh popped out of the tree-stump
again. "Come!" said he, "and see if thou canst recognize him now."
Then he took him to a sheep-pen, and there were rows and rows of rams,
and one ram was just like another. The man stared and stared, but he
could not pick out his son. "Thou mayst as well go home then," said
Oh, "but thy son shall live with me yet another year." So the man went
away, sad at heart.

The third year also passed away, and the man came again to find Oh.
He went on and on till there met him an old man all as white as milk,
and the raiment of this old man was glistening white. "Hail to thee,
O man!" said he.--"Hail to thee also, my father!"--"Whither doth God
lead thee?"--"I am going to free my son from Oh."--"How so?"--Then
the man told the old white father how he had hired out his son to Oh
and under what conditions.--"Aye, aye!" said the old white father,
"'tis a vile pagan thou hast to deal with; he will lead thee about
by the nose for a long time."--"Yes," said the man, "I perceive that
he is a vile pagan; but I know not what in the world to do with him.
Canst thou not tell me then, dear father, how I may recover my
son?"--"Yes, I can," said the old man.--"Then prythee tell me,
darling father, and I'll pray for thee to God all my life, for
though he has not been much of a son to me, he is still my own flesh
and blood."--"Hearken, then!" said the old man; "when thou dost go to
Oh, he will let loose a multitude of doves before thee, but choose
not one of these doves. The dove thou shalt choose must be the one
that comes not out, but remains sitting beneath the pear-tree pruning
its feathers; that will be thy son." Then the man thanked the old
white father and went on.

He came to the charred stumps. "Oh!" cried he, and out came Oh and led
him to his sylvan realm. There Oh scattered about handfuls of wheat
and called his doves, and there flew down such a multitude of them
that there was no counting them, and one dove was just like another.
"Dost thou recognize thy son?" asked Oh. "An thou knowest him again,
he is thine; an thou knowest him not, he is mine." Now all the doves
there were pecking at the wheat, all but one that sat alone beneath
the pear-tree, sticking out its breast and pruning its feathers. "That
is my son," said the man.--"Since thou hast guessed him, take him,"
replied Oh. Then the father took the dove, and immediately it changed
into a handsome young man, and a handsomer was not to be found in the
wide world. The father rejoiced greatly and embraced and kissed him.
"Let us go home, my son!" said he. So they went.

As they went along the road together they fell a-talking, and his
father asked him how he had fared at Oh's. The son told him. Then the
father told the son what he had suffered, and it was the son's turn to
listen. Furthermore the father said, "What shall we do now, my son? I
am poor and thou art poor: hast thou served these three years and
earned nothing?"--"Grieve not, dear dad, all will come right in the
end. Look! there are some young nobles hunting after a fox. I will
turn myself into a greyhound and catch the fox, then the young
noblemen will want to buy me of thee, and thou must sell me to them
for three hundred roubles--only, mind thou sell me without a chain;
then we shall have lots of money at home, and will live happily

They went on and on, and there, on the borders of a forest, some
hounds were chasing a fox. They chased it and chased it, but the fox
kept on escaping, and the hounds could not run it down. Then the son
changed himself into a greyhound, and ran down the fox and killed it.
The noblemen thereupon came galloping out of the forest. "Is that thy
greyhound?"--"It is."--"'Tis a good dog; wilt sell it to us?"--"Bid
for it!"--"What dost thou require?"--"Three hundred roubles without a
chain."--"What do we want with _thy_ chain, we would give him a chain
of gold. Say a hundred roubles!"--"Nay!"--"Then take thy money and
give us the dog." They counted down the money and took the dog and
set off hunting. They sent the dog after another fox. Away he went
after it and chased it right into the forest, but then he turned into
a youth again and rejoined his father.

They went on and on, and his father said to him, "What use is this
money to us after all? It is barely enough to begin housekeeping with
and repair our hut."--"Grieve not, dear dad, we shall get more still.
Over yonder are some young noblemen hunting quails with falcons. I
will change myself into a falcon, and thou must sell me to them; only
sell me for three hundred roubles, and without a hood."

They went into the plain, and there were some young noblemen casting
their falcon at a quail. The falcon pursued but always fell short of
the quail, and the quail always eluded the falcon. The son then
changed himself into a falcon and immediately struck down its prey.
The young noblemen saw it and were astonished. "Is that thy
falcon?"--"'Tis mine."--"Sell it to us, then!"--"Bid for it!"--"What
dost thou want for it?"--"If ye give three hundred roubles, ye may
take it, but it must be without the hood."--"As if we want _thy_ hood!
We'll make for it a hood worthy of a Tsar." So they higgled and
haggled, but at last they gave him the three hundred roubles. Then the
young nobles sent the falcon after another quail, and it flew and flew
till it beat down its prey; but then he became a youth again, and went
on with his father.

"How shall we manage to live with so little?" said the father.--"Wait
a while, dad, and we shall have still more," said the son. "When we
pass through the fair I'll change myself into a horse, and thou must
sell me. They will give thee a thousand roubles for me, only sell me
without a halter." So when they got to the next little town, where
they were holding a fair, the son changed himself into a horse, a
horse as supple as a serpent, and so fiery that it was dangerous to
approach him. The father led the horse along by the halter; it pranced
about and struck sparks from the ground with its hoofs. Then the
horse-dealers came together and began to bargain for it. "A thousand
roubles down," said he, "and you may have it, but without the
halter."--"What do we want with _thy_ halter? We will make for it a
silver-gilt halter. Come, we'll give thee five hundred!"--"No!" said
he. Then up there came a gipsy, blind of one eye. "O man! what dost
thou want for that horse?" said he.--"A thousand roubles without the
halter."--"Nay! but that is dear, little father! Wilt thou not take
five hundred with the halter?"--"No, not a bit of it!"--"Take six
hundred, then!" Then the gipsy began higgling and haggling, but the
man would not give way. "Come, sell it," said he, "with the
halter."--"No, thou gipsy, I have a liking for that halter."--"But, my
good man, when didst thou ever see them sell a horse without a halter?
How then can one lead him off?"--"Nevertheless, the halter must remain
mine."--"Look now, my father, I'll give thee five roubles extra, only
I must have the halter."--The old man fell a-thinking. "A halter of
this kind is worth but three _grivni_[4] and the gipsy offers me five
roubles for it; let him have it." So they clinched the bargain with a
good drink, and the old man went home with the money, and the gipsy
walked off with the horse. But it was not really a gipsy, but Oh, who
had taken the shape of a gipsy.

   [4] A _grivna_ is the tenth part of a rouble, about 2-1/2 d.


Then Oh rode off on the horse, and the horse carried him higher than
the trees of the forest, but lower than the clouds of the sky. At last
they sank down among the woods and came to Oh's hut, and Oh went into
his hut and left his horse outside on the steppe. "This son of a dog
shall not escape from my hands so quickly a second time," said he to
his wife. At dawn Oh took the horse by the bridle and led it away to
the river to water it. But no sooner did the horse get to the river
and bend down its head to drink than it turned into a perch and began
swimming away. Oh, without more ado, turned himself into a pike and
pursued the perch. But just as the pike was almost up with it, the
perch gave a sudden twist and stuck out its spiky fins and turned its
tail toward the pike, so that the pike could not lay hold of it. So
when the pike came up to it, it said, "Perch! perch! turn thy head
toward me, I want to have a chat with thee!"--"I can hear thee very
well as I am, dear cousin, if thou art inclined to chat," said the
perch. So off they set again, and again the pike overtook the perch.
"Perch! perch! turn thy head round toward me, I want to have a chat
with thee!" Then the perch stuck out its bristly fins again and said,
"If thou dost wish to have a chat, dear cousin, I can hear thee just
as well as I am." So the pike kept on pursuing the perch, but it was
of no use. At last the perch swam ashore, and there was a Tsarivna[5]
whittling an ash twig. The perch changed itself into a gold ring set
with garnets, and the Tsarivna saw it and fished up the ring out of
the water. Full of joy she took it home, and said to her father,
"Look, dear papa! what a nice ring I have found!" The Tsar kissed her,
but the Tsarivna did not know which finger it would suit best, it was
so lovely.

   [5] Russian _Tsarevna_, _i.e._ a Tsar's daughter.

About the same time they told the Tsar that a certain merchant had
come to the palace. It was Oh, who had changed himself into a
merchant. The Tsar went out to him and said, "What dost thou want, old
man?"--"I was sailing on the sea in my ship," said Oh, "and carrying
to the Tsar of my own land a precious garnet ring, and this ring I
dropped into the water. Has any of thy servants perchance found this
precious ring?"--"No, but my daughter has," said the Tsar. So they
called the damsel, and Oh began to beg her to give it back to him,
"for I may not live in this world if I bring not the ring," said he.
But it was of no avail, she would not give it up.

Then the Tsar himself spoke to her. "Nay, but, darling daughter, give
it up, lest misfortune befall this man because of us; give it up, I
say!" Then Oh begged and prayed her yet more, and said, "Take what
thou wilt of me, only give me back the ring."--"Nay, then," said the
Tsarivna, "it shall be neither mine nor thine," and with that she
tossed the ring upon the ground, and it turned into a heap of
millet-seed and scattered all about the floor. Then Oh, without more
ado, changed into a cock, and began pecking up all the seed. He pecked
and pecked till he had pecked it all up. Yet there was one single
little grain of millet which rolled right beneath the feet of the
Tsarivna, and that he did not see. When he had done pecking he got
upon the window-sill, opened his wings, and flew right away.

But the one remaining grain of millet-seed turned into a most
beauteous youth, a youth so beauteous that when the Tsarivna beheld
him she fell in love with him on the spot, and begged the Tsar and
Tsaritsa right piteously to let her have him as her husband. "With no
other shall I ever be happy," said she; "my happiness is in him
alone!" For a long time the Tsar wrinkled his brows at the thought of
giving his daughter to a simple youth; but at last he gave them his
blessing, and they crowned them with bridal wreaths, and all the world
was bidden to the wedding-feast. And I too was there, and drank beer
and mead, and what my mouth could not hold ran down over my beard, and
my heart rejoiced within me.


Once upon a time there dwelt two brethren in one village, and one
brother was very, very rich, and the other brother was very, very
poor. The rich man had wealth of all sorts, but all that the poor man
had was a heap of children.

One day, at harvest-time, the poor man left his wife and went to reap
and thresh out his little plot of wheat, but the Wind came and swept
all his corn away down to the very last grain. The poor man was
exceeding wrath thereat, and said, "Come what will, I'll go seek the
Wind, and I'll tell him with what pains and trouble I had got my corn
to grow and ripen, and then he, forsooth! must needs come and blow it
all away."


So the man went home and made ready to go, and as he was making ready
his wife said to him, "Whither away, husband?"--"I am going to seek
the Wind," said he; "what dost thou say to that?"--"I should say, do
no such thing," replied his wife. "Thou knowest the saying, 'If thou
dost want to find the Wind, seek him on the open steppe. He can go ten
different ways to thy one.' Think of that, dear husband, and go not at
all."--"I mean to go," replied the man, "though I never return home
again." Then he took leave of his wife and children, and went straight
out into the wide world to seek the Wind on the open steppe.

He went on farther and farther till he saw before him a forest, and
on the borders of that forest stood a hut on hens' legs. The man went
into this hut and was filled with astonishment, for there lay on the
floor a huge, huge old man, as grey as milk. He lay there stretched
at full length, his head on the seat of honour,[6] with an arm and
leg in each of the four corners, and all his hair standing on end. It
was no other than the Wind himself. The man stared at this awful
Ancient with terror, for never in his life had he seen anything like
it. "God help thee, old father!" cried he.--"Good health to thee,
good man!" said the ancient giant, as he lay on the floor of the
hut. Then he asked him in the most friendly manner, "Whence hath God
brought thee hither, good man?"--"I am wandering through the wide
world in search of the Wind," said the man. "If I find him, I will
turn back; if I don't find him, I shall go on and on till I
do."--"What dost thou want with the Wind?" asked the old giant lying
on the floor. "Or what wrong hath he done thee, that thou shouldst
seek him out so doggedly?"--"What wrong hath he done me?" replied
the wayfarer. "Hearken now, O Ancient, and I will tell thee! I went
straight from my wife into the field and reaped my little plot of
corn; but when I began to thresh it out, the Wind came and caught
and scattered every bit of it in a twinkling, so that there was
not a single little grain of it left. So now thou dost see, old
man, what I have to thank him for. Tell me, in God's name, why such
things be? My little plot of corn was my all-in-all, and in the
sweat of my brow did I reap and thresh it; but the Wind came and blew
it all away, so that not a trace of it is to be found in the wide
world. Then I thought to myself, 'Why should he do this?' And I said
to my wife, 'I'll go seek the Wind, and say to him, "Another time,
visit not the poor man who hath but a little corn, and blow it not
away, for bitterly doth he rue it!"'"--"Good, my son!" said the giant
who lay on the floor. "I shall know better in future; in future I will
not blow away the poor man's corn. But, good man, there is no need
for thee to seek the Wind in the open steppe, for I myself am the
Wind."--"Then if thou art the Wind," said the man, "give me back my
corn."--"Nay," said the giant; "thou canst not make the dead come back
from the grave. Yet, inasmuch as I have done thee a mischief, I will
now give thee this sack, good man, and do thou take it home with
thee. And whenever thou wantest a meal say, 'Sack, sack, give me to
eat and drink!' and immediately thou shalt have thy fill both of
meat and drink, so now thou wilt have wherewithal to comfort thy
wife and children."

   [6] _Pokute_, the place of honour in a Ruthenian peasant's hut, at
       the right-hand side of the entrance.

Then the man was full of gratitude. "I thank thee, O Wind!" said he,
"for thy courtesy in giving me such a sack as will give me my fill of
meat and drink without the trouble of working for it."--"For a lazy
loon, 'twere a double boon," said the Wind. "Go home, then, but look
now, enter no tavern by the way; I shall know it if thou dost."--"No,"
said the man, "I will not." And then he took leave of the Wind and
went his way.

He had not gone very far when he passed by a tavern, and he felt a
burning desire to find out whether the Wind had spoken the truth in
the matter of the sack. "How can a man pass a tavern without going
into it?" thought he; "I'll go in, come what may. The Wind won't
know, because he can't see." So he went into the tavern and hung up
his sack upon a peg. The Jew who kept the tavern immediately said to
him, "What dost thou want, good man?"--"What is that to thee, thou
dog?" said the man.--"You are all alike," sneered the Jew, "take what
you can, and pay for nothing."--"Dost think I want to buy anything
from thee?" shrieked the man; then, turning angrily to the sack, he
cried, "Sack, sack, give me to eat and drink!" Immediately the table
was covered with all sorts of meats and liquors. Then all the Jews in
the tavern crowded round full of amazement, and asked all manner of
questions. "Why, what is this, good man?" said they; "never have we
seen anything like this before!"--"Ask no questions, ye accursed
Jews!" cried the man, "but sit down to eat, for there is enough for
all." So the Jews and the Jewesses set to and ate until they were full
up to the ears; and they drank the man's health in pitchers of wine of
every sort, and said, "Drink, good man, and spare not, and when thou
hast drunk thy fill thou shalt lodge with us this night. We'll make
ready a bed for thee. None shall vex thee. Come now, eat and drink
whatever thy soul desires." So the Jews flattered him with devilish
cunning, and almost forced the wine-jars to his lips.

The simple fellow did not perceive their malice and cunning, and he
got so drunk that he could not move from the place, but went to sleep
where he was. Then the Jews changed his sack for another, which they
hung up on a peg, and then they woke him. "Dost hear, fellow!" cried
they; "get up, it is time to go home. Dost thou not see the morning
light?" The man sat up and scratched the back of his head, for he was
loath to go. But what was he to do? So he shouldered the sack that was
hanging on the peg, and went off home.

When he got to his house, he cried, "Open the door, wife!" Then his
wife opened the door, and he went in and hung his sack on the peg and
said, "Sit down at the table, dear wife, and you children sit down
there too. Now, thank God! we shall have enough to eat and drink,
and to spare." The wife looked at her husband and smiled. She thought
he was mad, but down she sat, and her children sat down all round
her, and she waited to see what her husband would do next. Then
the man said, "Sack, sack, give to us meat and drink!" But the sack
was silent. Then he said again, "Sack, sack, give my children
something to eat!" And still the sack was silent. Then the man fell
into a violent rage. "Thou didst give me something at the tavern,"
cried he; "and now I may call in vain. Thou givest nothing, and thou
hearest nothing"--and, leaping from his seat, he took up a club
and began beating the sack till he had knocked a hole in the wall,
and beaten the sack to bits. Then he set off to seek the Wind again.
But his wife stayed at home and put everything to rights again,
railing and scolding at her husband as a madman.

But the man went to the Wind and said, "Hail to thee, O Wind!"--"Good
health to thee, O man!" replied the Wind. Then the Wind asked,
"Wherefore hast thou come hither, O man? Did I not give thee a sack?
What more dost thou want?"--"A pretty sack indeed!" replied the man;
"that sack of thine has been the cause of much mischief to me and
mine."--"What mischief has it done thee?"--"Why, look now, old
father, I'll tell thee what it has done. It wouldn't give me anything
to eat and drink, so I began beating it, and beat the wall in. Now
what shall I do to repair my crazy hut? Give me something, old
father."--But the Wind replied, "Nay, O man, thou must do without.
Fools are neither sown nor reaped, but grow of their own accord--hast
thou not been into a tavern?"--"I have not," said the man.--"Thou hast
not? Why wilt thou lie?"--"Well, and suppose I did lie?" said the man;
"if thou suffer harm through thine own fault, hold thy tongue about
it, that's what I say. Yet it is all the fault of thy sack that this
evil has come upon me. If it had only given me to eat and to drink, I
should not have come to thee again." At this the Wind scratched his
head a bit, but then he said, "Well then, thou man! there's a little
ram for thee, and whenever thou dost want money say to it, 'Little
ram, little ram, scatter money!' and it will scatter money as much as
thou wilt. Only bear this in mind: go not into a tavern, for if thou
dost, I shall know all about it; and if thou comest to me a third
time, thou shalt have cause to remember it for ever."--"Good," said
the man, "I won't go."--Then he took the little ram, thanked the Wind,
and went on his way.

So the man went along leading the little ram by a string, and they
came to a tavern, that very same tavern where he had been before, and
again a strong desire came upon the man to go in. So he stood by the
door and began thinking whether he should go in or not, and whether he
had any need to find out the truth about the little ram. "Well, well,"
said he at last, "I'll go in, only this time I won't get drunk. I'll
drink just a glass or so, and then I'll go home." So into the tavern
he went, dragging the little ram after him, for he was afraid to let
it go.

Now, when the Jews who were inside there saw the little ram, they
began shrieking and said, "What art thou thinking of, O man! that thou
bringest that little ram into the room? Are there no barns outside
where thou mayst put it up?"--"Hold your tongues, ye accursed
wretches!" replied the man; "what has it got to do with you? It is not
the sort of ram that fellows like you deal in. And if you don't
believe me, spread a cloth on the floor and you shall see something, I
warrant you."--Then he said, "Little ram, little ram, scatter money!"
and the little ram scattered so much money that it seemed to grow, and
the Jews screeched like demons.--"O man, man!" cried they, "such a ram
as that we have never seen in all our days. Sell it to us! We will
give thee such a lot of money for it."--"You may pick up all that
money, ye accursed ones," cried the man, "but I don't mean to sell my

Then the Jews picked up the money, but they laid before him a table
covered with all the dishes that a man's heart may desire, and they
begged him to sit down and make merry, and said with true Jewish
cunning, "Though thou mayst get a little lively, don't get drunk, for
thou knowest how drink plays the fool with a man's wits."--The man
marvelled at the straightforwardness of the Jews in warning him
against the drink, and, forgetting everything else, sat down at table
and began drinking pot after pot of mead, and talking with the Jews,
and his little ram went clean out of his head. But the Jews made him
drunk, and laid him in the bed, and changed rams with him; his they
took away, and put in its place one of their own exactly like it.

When the man had slept off his carouse, he arose and went away, taking
the ram with him, after bidding the Jews farewell. When he got to his
hut he found his wife in the doorway, and the moment she saw him
coming, she went into the hut and cried to her children, "Come,
children! make haste, make haste! for daddy is coming, and brings a
little ram along with him; get up, and look sharp about it! An evil
year of waiting has been the lot of wretched me, but he has come home
at last."

The husband arrived at the door and said, "Open the door, little wife;
open, I say!"--The wife replied, "Thou art not a great nobleman, so
open the door thyself. Why dost thou get so drunk that thou dost not
know how to open a door? It's an evil time that I spend with thee.
Here we are with all these little children, and yet thou dost go away
and drink."--Then the wife opened the door, and the husband walked
into the hut and said, "Good health to thee, dear wife!"--But the wife
cried, "Why dost thou bring that ram inside the hut, can't it stay
outside the walls?"--"Wife, wife!" said the man, "speak, but don't
screech. Now we shall have all manner of good things, and the children
will have a fine time of it."--"What!" said the wife, "what good can
we get from that wretched ram? Where shall we get the money to find
food for it? Why, we've nothing to eat ourselves, and thou dost saddle
us with a ram besides. Stuff and nonsense! I say."--"Silence, wife,"
replied the husband; "that ram is not like other rams, I tell
thee."--"What sort is it, then?" asked his wife.--"Don't ask
questions, but spread a cloth on the floor and keep thine eyes
open."--"Why spread a cloth?" asked the wife.--"Why?" shrieked the man
in a rage; "do what I tell thee, and hold thy tongue."--But the wife
said, "Alas, alas! I have an evil time of it. Thou dost nothing at all
but go away and drink, and then thou comest home and dost talk
nonsense, and bringest sacks and rams with thee, and knockest down our
little hut."--At this the husband could control his rage no longer,
but shrieked at the ram, "Little ram, little ram, scatter money!"--But
the ram only stood there and stared at him. Then he cried again,
"Little ram, little ram, scatter money!"--But the ram stood there
stock-still and did nothing. Then the man in his anger caught up a
piece of wood and struck the ram on the head, but the poor ram only
uttered a feeble baa! and fell to the earth dead.

The man was now very much offended and said, "I'll go to the Wind
again, and I'll tell him what a fool he has made of me." Then he took
up his hat and went, leaving everything behind him. And the poor wife
put everything to rights, and reproached and railed at her husband.

So the man came to the Wind for the third time and said, "Wilt thou
tell me, please, if thou art really the Wind or no?"--"What's the
matter with thee?" asked the Wind.--"I'll tell thee what's the
matter," said the man; "why hast thou laughed at and mocked me and
made such a fool of me?"--"I laugh at _thee_!" thundered the old
father as he lay there on the floor and turned round on the other ear;
"why didst thou not hold fast what I gave thee? Why didst thou not
listen to me when I told thee not to go into the tavern, eh?"--"What
tavern dost thou mean?" asked the man proudly; "as for the sack and
the ram thou didst give me, they only did me a mischief; give me
something else."--"What's the use of giving thee anything?" said the
Wind; "thou wilt only take it to the tavern. Out of the drum, my
twelve henchmen!" cried the Wind, "and just give this accursed
drunkard a good lesson that he may keep his throat dry and listen a
little more to old people!"--Immediately twelve henchmen leaped out of
his drum and began giving the man a sound thrashing. Then the man saw
that it was no joke and begged for mercy. "Dear old father Wind,"
cried he, "be merciful, and let me get off alive. I'll not come to
thee again though I should have to wait till the Judgment Day, and
I'll do all thy behests."--"Into the drum, my henchmen!" cried the
Wind.--"And now, O man!" said the Wind, "thou mayst have this drum
with the twelve henchmen, and go to those accursed Jews, and if they
will not give thee back thy sack and thy ram, thou wilt know what to

[Illustration: "OUT OF THE DRUM, MY HENCHMEN!"]

So the man thanked the Wind for his good advice, and went on his way.
He came to the inn, and when the Jews saw that he brought nothing with
him they said, "Hearken, O man! don't come here, for we have no
brandy."--"What do I want with your brandy?" cried the man in a
rage.--"Then for what hast thou come hither?"--"I have come for my
own."--"Thy own," said the Jews; "what dost thou mean?"--"What do I
mean?" roared the man; "why, my sack and my ram, which you must give
up to me."--"What ram? What sack?" said the Jews; "why, thou didst
take them away from here thyself."--"Yes, but you changed them," said
the man.--"What dost thou mean by changed?" whined the Jews; "we will
go before the magistrate, and thou shalt hear from us about
this."--"You will have an evil time of it if you go before the
magistrate," said the man; "but at any rate, give me back my own." And
he sat down upon a bench. Then the Jews caught him by the shoulders to
cast him out and cried, "Be off, thou rascal! Does any one know where
this man comes from? No doubt he is an evil-doer." The man could not
stand this, so he cried, "Out of the drum, my henchmen! and give the
accursed Jews a sound drubbing, that they may know better than to take
in honest folk!" and immediately the twelve henchmen leaped out of the
drum and began thwacking the Jews finely.--"Oh, oh!" roared the Jews;
"oh, dear, darling, good man, we'll give thee whatever thou dost want,
only leave off beating us! Let us live a bit longer in the world, and
we will give thee back everything."--"Good!" said the man, "and
another time you'll know better than to deceive people." Then he
cried, "Into the drum, my henchmen!" and the henchmen disappeared,
leaving the Jews more dead than alive. Then they gave the man his sack
and his ram, and he went home, but it was a long, long time before the
Jews forgot those henchmen.

So the man went home, and his wife and children saw him coming from
afar. "Daddy is coming home now with a sack and a ram!" said she;
"what shall we do? We shall have a bad time of it, we shall have
nothing left at all. God defend us poor wretches! Go and hide
everything, children." So the children hastened away, but the husband
came to the door and said, "Open the door!"--"Open the door thyself,"
replied the wife.--Again the husband bade her open the door, but she
paid no heed to him. The man was astonished. This was carrying a joke
too far, so he cried to his henchmen, "Henchmen, henchmen! out of the
drum, and teach my wife to respect her husband!" Then the henchmen
leaped out of the drum, laid the good wife by the heels, and began to
give her a sound drubbing. "Oh, my dear, darling husband!" shrieked
the wife, "never to the end of my days will I be sulky with thee
again. I'll do whatever thou tellest me, only leave off beating
me."--"Then I have taught thee sense, eh?" said the man.--"Oh, yes,
yes, good husband!" cried she. Then the man said: "Henchmen, henchmen!
into the drum!" and the henchmen leaped into it again, leaving the
poor wife more dead than alive.

Then the husband said to her, "Wife, spread a cloth upon the floor."
The wife scudded about as nimbly as a fly, and spread a cloth out on
the floor without a word. Then the husband said, "Little ram, little
ram, scatter money!" And the little ram scattered money till there
were piles and piles of it. "Pick it up, my children," said the man,
"and thou too, wife, take what thou wilt!"--And they didn't wait to be
asked twice. Then the man hung up his sack on a peg and said, "Sack,
sack, meat and drink!" Then he caught hold of it and shook it, and
immediately the table was as full as it could hold with all manner of
victuals and drink. "Sit down, my children, and thou too, dear wife,
and eat thy fill. Thank God, we shall now have no lack of food, and
shall not have to work for it either."

So the man and his wife were very happy together, and were never tired
of thanking the Wind. They had not had the sack and the ram very long
when they grew very rich, and then the husband said to the wife, "I
tell thee what, wife!"--"What?" said she.--"Let us invite my brother
to come and see us."--"Very good," she replied; "invite him, but dost
thou think he'll come?"--"Why shouldn't he?" asked her husband. "Now,
thank God, we have everything we want. He wouldn't come to us when we
were poor and he was rich, because then he was ashamed to say that I
was his brother, but now even he hasn't got so much as we have."

So they made ready, and the man went to invite his brother. The poor
man came to his rich brother and said, "Hail to thee, brother; God
help thee!"--Now the rich brother was threshing wheat on his
threshing-floor, and, raising his head, was surprised to see his
brother there, and said to him haughtily, "I thank thee. Hail to
thee also! Sit down, my brother, and tell us why thou hast come
hither."--"Thanks, my brother, I do not want to sit down. I have come
hither to invite thee to us, thee and thy wife."--"Wherefore?"
asked the rich brother.--The poor man said, "My wife prays thee, and
I pray thee also, to come and dine with us of thy courtesy."--"Good!"
replied the rich brother, smiling secretly. "I will come whatever
thy dinner may be."

So the rich man went with his wife to the poor man, and already from
afar they perceived that the poor man had grown rich. And the poor
man rejoiced greatly when he saw his rich brother in his house. And
his tongue was loosened, and he began to show him everything,
whatsoever he possessed. The rich man was amazed that things were
going so well with his brother, and asked him how he had managed
to get on so. But the poor man answered, "Don't ask me, brother. I
have more to show thee yet." Then he took him to his copper money,
and said, "There are my oats, brother!" Then he took and showed
him his silver money, and said, "That's the sort of barley I thresh
on my threshing-floor!" And, last of all, he took him to his gold
money, and said, "There, my dear brother, is the best wheat I've
got."--Then the rich brother shook his head, not once nor twice,
and marvelled at the sight of so many good things, and he said,
"Wherever didst thou pick up all this, my brother?"--"Oh! I've more
than that to show thee yet. Just be so good as to sit down on that
chair, and I'll show and tell thee everything."

Then they sat them down, and the poor man hung up his sack upon a peg.
"Sack, sack, meat and drink!" he cried, and immediately the table was
covered with all manner of dishes. So they ate and ate, till they were
full up to the ears. When they had eaten and drunken their fill, the
poor man called to his son to bring the little ram into the hut. So
the lad brought in the ram, and the rich brother wondered what they
were going to do with it. Then the poor man said, "Little ram, scatter
money!" And the little ram scattered money, till there were piles and
piles of it on the floor. "Pick it up!" said the poor man to the rich
man and his wife. So they picked it up, and the rich brother and his
wife marvelled, and the brother said, "Thou hast a very nice piece of
goods there, brother. If I had only something like that I should lack
nothing;" then, after thinking a long time, he said, "Sell it to me,
my brother."--"No," said the poor man, "I will not sell it."--After a
little time, however, the rich brother said again, "Come now! I'll
give thee for it six yoke of oxen, and a plough, and a harrow, and a
hay-fork, and I'll give thee besides, lots of corn to sow, thus thou
wilt have plenty, but give me the ram and the sack." So at last they
exchanged. The rich man took the sack and the ram, and the poor man
took the oxen and went out to the plough.

Then the poor brother went out ploughing all day, but he neither
watered his oxen nor gave them anything to eat. And next day the poor
brother again went out to his oxen, but found them rolling on their
sides on the ground. He began to pull and tug at them, but they didn't
get up. Then he began to beat them with a stick, but they uttered not
a sound. The man was surprised to find them fit for nothing, and off
he ran to his brother, not forgetting to take with him his drum with
the henchmen.

When the poor brother came to the rich brother's, he lost no time in
crossing his threshold, and said, "Hail, my brother!"--"Good health to
thee also!" replied the rich man, "why hast thou come hither? Has thy
plough broken, or thy oxen failed thee? Perchance thou hast watered
them with foul water, so that their blood is stagnant, and their flesh
inflamed?"--"The murrain take 'em if I know thy meaning!" cried the
poor brother. "All that I know is that I thwacked 'em till my arms
ached, and they wouldn't stir, and not a single grunt did they give;
till I was so angry that I spat at them, and came to tell thee. Give
me back my sack and my ram, I say, and take back thy oxen, for they
won't listen to me!"--"What! take them back!" roared the rich brother.
"Dost think I only made the exchange for a single day? No, I gave them
to thee once and for all, and now thou wouldst rip the whole thing up
like a goat at the fair. I have no doubt thou hast neither watered
them nor fed them, and that is why they won't stand up."--"I didn't
know," said the poor man, "that oxen needed water and food."--"Didn't
know!" screeched the rich man, in a mighty rage, and taking the poor
brother by the hand, he led him away from the hut. "Go away," said he,
"and never come back here again, or I'll have thee hanged on a
gallows!"--"Ah! what a big gentleman we are!" said the poor brother;
"just thou give me back my own, and then I will go away."--"Thou hadst
better not stop here," said the rich brother; "come, stir thy stumps,
thou pagan! Go home ere I beat thee!"--"Don't say that," replied the
poor man, "but give me back my ram and my sack, and then I _will_
go."--At this the rich brother quite lost his temper, and cried to his
wife and children, "Why do you stand staring like that? Can't you come
and help me to pitch this insolent rogue out of the house?" This,
however, was something beyond a joke, so the poor brother called to
his henchmen, "Henchmen, henchmen! out of the drum, and give this
brother of mine and his wife a sound drubbing, that they may think
twice about it another time before they pitch a poor brother out of
their hut!" Then the henchmen leaped out of the drum, and laid hold of
the rich brother and his wife, and trounced them soundly, until the
rich brother yelled with all his might, "Oh, oh! my own true brother,
take what thou wilt, only let me off alive!" whereupon the poor
brother cried to his henchmen, "Henchmen, henchmen! into the drum!"
and the henchmen disappeared immediately.

Then the poor brother took his ram and his sack, and set off home with
them. And they lived happily ever after, and grew richer and richer.
They sowed neither wheat nor barley, and yet they had lots and lots to
eat. And I was there, and drank mead and beer. What my mouth couldn't
hold ran down my beard. For you, there's a _kazka_, but there be fat
hearth-cakes for me the asker. And if I have aught to eat, thou shalt
share the treat.


A nobleman went hunting one autumn, and with him went a goodly train
of huntsmen. All day long they hunted and hunted, and at the end of
the day they had caught nothing. At last dark night overtook them. It
had now grown bitterly cold, and the rain began to fall heavily. The
nobleman was wet to the skin, and his teeth chattered. He rubbed his
hands together and cried, "Oh, had we but a warm hut, and a white bed,
and soft bread, and sour kvas,[7] we should have naught to complain
of, but would tell tales and feign fables till dawn of day!"
Immediately there shone a light in the depths of the forest. They
hastened up to it, and lo! there was a hut. They entered, and on the
table lay bread and a jug of kvas; and the hut was warm, and the bed
therein was white--everything just as the nobleman had desired it. So
they all entered after him, and said grace, and had supper, and laid
them down to sleep.

   [7] A sourish drink.

They all slept, all but one, but to him slumber would not come. About
midnight he heard a strange noise, and something came to the window
and said, "Oh, thou son of a dog! thou didst say, 'If we had but a
warm hut, and a white bed, and soft bread, and sour kvas, we should
have naught to complain of, but would tell tales and feign fables till
dawn'; but now thou hast forgotten thy fine promise! Wherefore this
shall befall thee on thy way home. Thou shalt fall in with an
apple-tree full of apples, and thou shalt desire to taste of them,
and when thou hast tasted thereof thou shalt burst. And if any of
these thy huntsmen hear this thing and tell thee of it, that man shall
become stone to the knee!" All this that huntsman heard, and he
thought, "Woe is me!"

And about the second cockcrow something else came to the window and
said, "Oh, thou son of a dog! thou didst say, 'If we had but a warm
hut, and a white bed, and soft bread, and sour kvas, we should have
naught to complain of, but would tell tales and feign fables till
dawn'; but now thou hast forgotten thy fine promises! Wherefore this
shall befall thee on thy way home. Thou shalt come upon a spring by
the roadside, a spring of pure water, and thou shalt desire to drink
of it, and when thou hast drunk thereof thou shalt burst. But if any
of these thy huntsmen hear and tell thee of this thing, he shall
become stone to the girdle." All this that huntsman heard, and he
thought to himself, "Woe is me!"

Again, toward the third cockcrow, he heard something else coming to
the window, and it said, "Oh, thou son of a dog! thou didst say, 'If
only we had a warm hut, and a white bed, and soft bread, and sour
kvas, we should have naught to complain of, but would tell tales and
feign fables till dawn'; but now thou hast forgotten all thy fine
promises! Wherefore this shall befall thee on thy way home. Thou shalt
come upon a feather-bed in the highway; a longing for rest shall come
over thee, and thou wilt lie down on it, and the moment thou liest
down thereon thou shalt burst. But if any of thy huntsmen hear this
thing and tell it thee, he shall become stone up to the neck!" All
this that huntsman heard, and then he awoke his comrades and said,
"It is time to depart!"--"Let us go then," said the nobleman.

So on they went, and they had not gone very far when they saw an
apple-tree growing by the wayside, and on it were apples so beautiful
that words cannot describe them. The nobleman felt that he must taste
of these apples or die; but the wakeful huntsman rushed up and cut
down the apple-tree, whereupon apples and apple-tree turned to ashes.
But the huntsman galloped on before and hid himself.

They went on a little farther till they came to a spring, and the
water of that spring was so pure and clear that words cannot describe
it. Then the nobleman felt that he must drink of that water or die;
but the huntsman rushed up and splashed in the spring with his sword,
and immediately the water turned to blood. The nobleman was wrath, and
cried, "Cut me down that son of a dog!" But the huntsman rode on in
front and hid himself.

They went on still farther till they came upon a golden bed in the
highway, full of white feathers so soft and cosy that words cannot
describe it. The nobleman felt that he must rest in that bed or die.
Then the huntsman rushed up and struck the bed with his sword, and it
turned to coal. But the nobleman was very wrath, and cried, "Shoot me
down that son of a dog!" But the huntsman rode on before and hid

When they got home the nobleman commanded them to bring the huntsman
before him. "What hast thou done, thou son of Satan?" he cried. "I
must needs slay thee!" But the huntsman said, "My master, bid them
bring hither into the courtyard an old mare fit for naught but the
knacker." They brought the mare, and he mounted it and said, "My
master, last midnight something came beneath the window and said, 'Oh,
son of a dog! thou saidst, "If only we had a warm hut, and a white
bed, and soft bread, and sour kvas, we should grieve no more, but tell
tales and feign fables till dawn," and now thou hast forgotten thy
promise. Wherefore this shall befall thee on thy way home: thou shalt
come upon an apple-tree covered with apples by the wayside, and
straightway thou shalt long to eat of them, and the moment thou
tastest thereof thou shalt burst. And if any of thy huntsmen hears
this thing, and tells thee of it, he shall become stone up to the
knee.'" When the huntsman had spoken so far, the horse on which he sat
became stone up to the knee. Then he went on, "About the second
cockcrow something else came to the window and said the selfsame
thing, and prophesied, 'He shall come upon a spring by the roadside, a
spring of pure water, and he shall long to drink thereof, and the
moment he tastes of it he shall burst; and whoever hears and tells him
of this thing shall become stone right up to the girdle.'" And when
the huntsman had spoken so far, the horse on which he sat became stone
right up to the breast. And he continued, and said, "About the third
cockcrow something else came to the window and said the selfsame
thing, and added, 'This shall befall thy lord on his way home. He
shall come upon a white bed on the road, and he shall desire to rest
upon it, and the moment he rests upon it he shall burst; and whoever
hears and tells him of this thing shall become stone right up to the
neck!'" And with these words he leaped from the horse, and the horse
became stone right up to its neck. "That therefore, my master, was why
I did what I did, and I pray thee pardon me."


Once upon a time, in a certain kingdom, in a certain empire, there
dwelt a certain Tsar who had never had a child. One day this Tsar went
to the bazaar (such a bazaar as we have at Kherson) to buy food for
his needs. For though he was a Tsar, he had a mean and churlish soul,
and used always to do his own marketing, and so now, too, he bought a
little salt fish and went home with it. On his way homeward, a great
thirst suddenly fell upon him, so he turned aside into a lonely
mountain where he knew, as his father had known before him, there was
a spring of crystal-clear water. He was so very thirsty that he flung
himself down headlong by this spring without first crossing himself,
wherefore that Accursed One, Satan, immediately had power over him,
and caught him by the beard. The Tsar sprang back in terror, and
cried, "Let me go!" But the Accursed One held him all the tighter.
"Nay, I will not let thee go!" cried he. Then the Tsar began to
entreat him piteously. "Ask what thou wilt of me," said he, "only let
me go."--"Give me, then," said the Accursed One, "something that thou
hast in the house, and then I'll let thee go!"--"Let me see, what have
I got?" said the Tsar. "Oh, I know. I've got eight horses at home, the
like of which I have seen nowhere else, and I'll immediately bid my
equerry bring them to thee to this spring--take them."--"I _won't_
have them!" cried the Accursed One, and he held him still more tightly
by the beard. "Well, then, hearken now!" cried the Tsar. "I have
eight oxen. They have never yet gone a-ploughing for me, or done a
day's work. I'll have them brought hither. I'll feast my eyes on them
once more, and then I'll have them driven into thy steppes--take
them."--"No, that won't do either!" said the Accursed One. The Tsar
went over, one by one, all the most precious things he had at home,
but the Accursed One said "No!" all along, and pulled him more and
more tightly by the beard. When the Tsar saw that the Accursed One
would take none of all these things, he said to him at last, "Look
now! I have a wife so lovely that the like of her is not to be found
in the whole world, take her and let me go!"--"No!" replied the
Accursed One, "I will not have her." The Tsar was in great straits.
"What am I to do now?" thought he. "I have offered him my lovely wife,
who is the very choicest of my chattels, and he won't have her!"--Then
said the Accursed One, "Promise me what thou shalt find awaiting thee
at home, and I'll let thee go."

The Tsar gladly promised this, for he could think of naught else that
he had, and then the Accursed One let him go.

But while he had been away from home, there had been born to him a
Tsarevko[8] and a Tsarivna; and they grew up not by the day, or even
by the hour, but by the minute: never were known such fine children.
And his wife saw him coming from afar, and went out to meet him, with
her two children, with great joy. But he, the moment he saw them,
burst into tears. "Nay, my dear love," cried she, "wherefore dost thou
burst into tears? Or art thou so delighted that such children have
been born unto thee that thou canst not find thy voice for tears of
joy?"--And he answered her, "My darling wife, on my way back from the
bazaar I was athirst, and turned toward a mountain known of old to my
father and me, and it seemed to me as though there were a spring of
water there, though the water was very near dried up. But looking
closer, I saw that it was quite full; so I bethought me that I would
drink thereof, and I leaned over, when lo! that Evil-wanton (I mean
the Devil) caught me by the beard and would not let me go. I begged
and prayed, but still he held me tight. 'Give me,' said he, 'what thou
hast at home, or I'll never let thee go!'--And I said to him, 'Lo!
now, I have horses.'--'I don't want thy horses!' said he.--'I have
oxen,' I said.--'I don't want thine oxen!' said he.--'I have,' said I,
'a wife so fair that the like of her is not to be found in God's fair
world; take her, but let me go.'--'I don't want thy fair wife!' said
he.--Then I promised him what I should find at home when I got there,
for I never thought that God had blessed me so. Come now, my darling
wife! and let us bury them both lest he take them!"--"Nay, nay! my
dear husband, we had better hide them somewhere. Let us dig a ditch by
our hut--just under the gables!" (For there were no lordly mansions in
those days, and the Tsars dwelt in peasants' huts.) So they dug a
ditch right under the gables, and put their children inside it, and
gave them provision of bread and water. Then they covered it up and
smoothed it down, and turned into their own little hut.

   [8] A little Tsar.

Presently the serpent (for the Accursed One had changed himself into a
serpent) came flying up in search of the children. He raged up and
down outside the hut--but there was nothing to be seen. At last he
cried out to the stove, "Stove, stove, where has the Tsar hidden
his children?"--The stove replied, "The Tsar has been a good master
to me; he has put lots of warm fuel inside me; I hold to him."--So,
finding he could get nothing out of the stove, he cried to the
hearth-broom, "Hearth-broom, hearth-broom, where has the Tsar
hidden his children?"--But the hearth-broom answered, "The Tsar has
always been a good master to me, for he always cleans the warm grate
with me; I hold to him." So the Accursed One could get nothing out
of the hearth-broom.--Then he cried to the hatchet, "Hatchet,
hatchet, where has the Tsar hidden his children?"--The hatchet
replied, "The Tsar has always been a good master to me. He chops
his wood with me, and gives me a place to lie down in; so I'll not
have him disturbed."--Then the Devil cried to the gimlet, "Gimlet,
gimlet, where has the Tsar hidden his children?"--But the gimlet
replied, "The Tsar has always been a good master to me. He drills
little holes with me, and then lets me rest; so I'll let him rest
too."--Then the serpent said to the gimlet, "So the Tsar's a good
master to thee, eh! Well, I can only say that if he's the good
master thou sayest he is, I am rather surprised that he knocks thee
on the head so much with a hammer."--"Well, that's true," said
the gimlet, "I never thought of that. Thou mayst take hold of me if
thou wilt, and draw me out of the top of the hut, near the front
gable; and wherever I fall into the marshy ground, there set to work
and dig with me!"

The Devil did so, and began digging at the spot where the gimlet fell
out on the marshy ground till he had dug out the children. Now, as
they had been growing all along, they were children no more, but a
stately youth and a fair damsel; and the serpent took them up and
carried them off. But they were big and heavy, so he soon got tired
and lay down to rest, and presently fell asleep. Then the Tsarivna sat
down on his head, and the Tsarevko sat down beside her, till a horse
came running up. The horse ran right up to them and said, "Hail!
little Tsar Novishny; art thou here by thy leave or against thy
leave?"--And the little Tsar Novishny replied, "Nay, little nag! we
are here against our leave, not by our leave."--"Then sit on my back!"
said the horse, "and I'll carry you off!" So they got on his back, for
the serpent was asleep all the time. Then the horse galloped off with
them; and he galloped far, far away. Presently the serpent awoke,
looked all round him, and could see nothing till he had got up out of
the reeds in which he lay, when he saw them in the far distance, and
gave chase. He soon caught them up; and little Tsar Novishny said to
the horse, "Oh! little nag, how hot it is. It is all up with thee and
us!" And, in truth, the horse's tail was already singed to a coal, for
the serpent was hard behind them, blazing like fire. The horse
perceived that he could do no more, so he gave one last wriggle and
died; but they, poor things, were left alive. "Whom have you been
listening to?" said the serpent as he flew up to them. "Don't you know
that I only am your father and tsar, and have the right to carry you
away?"--"Oh, dear daddy! we'll never listen to anybody else
again!"--"Well, I'll forgive you this time," said the serpent; "but
mind you never do it again."

Again the serpent took them up and carried them off. Presently he
grew tired and again lay down to rest, and nodded off. Then the
Tsarivna sat down on his head, and the Tsarevko sat down beside her,
till a humble-bee came flying up. "Hail, little Tsar Novishny!" cried
the humble-bee.--"Hail, little humble-bee!" said the little
Tsar.--"Say, friends, are you here by your leave or against your
leave?"--"Alas! little humble-bumble-bee, 'tis not with my leave I
have been brought hither, but against my leave, as thou mayst see for
thyself."--"Then sit on my back," said the bee, "and I'll carry you
away."--"But, dear little humble-bumble-bee, if a horse couldn't save
us, how will you?"--"I cannot tell till I try," said the humble-bee.
"But if I cannot save you, I'll let you fall."--"Well, then," said
the little Tsar, "we'll try. For we two must perish in any case,
but thou perhaps mayst get off scot-free." So they embraced each
other, sat on the humble-bee, and off they went. When the serpent
awoke he missed them, and raising his head above the reeds and rushes,
saw them flying far away, and set off after them at full speed.
"Alas! little humble-bumble-bee," cried little Tsar Novishny, "how
burning hot 'tis getting. We shall all three perish!" Then the
humble-bee turned his wing and shook them off. They fell to the
earth, and he flew away. Then the serpent came flying up and fell
upon them with open jaws. "Ah-ha!" cried he, with a snort, "you've
come to grief again, eh? Didn't I tell you to listen to nobody but
me!" Then they fell to weeping and entreating, "We'll listen to you
alone and to nobody else!" and they wept and entreated so much that
at last he forgave them.

So he took them up and carried them off once more. Again he sat down
to rest and fell asleep, and again the Tsarivna sat upon his head and
the Tsarevko sat down by her side, till a bullock came up, full tilt,
and said to them, "Hail, little Tsar Novishny! art thou here with thy
leave or art thou here against thy leave?"--"Alas! dear little
bullock, I came not hither by my leave; but maybe I was brought here
against my leave!"--"Sit on my back, then," said the bullock, "and
I'll carry you away."--But they said, "Nay, if a horse and a bee could
not manage it, how wilt thou?"--"Nonsense!" said the bullock. "Sit
down, and I'll carry you off!" So he persuaded them.--"Well, we can
only perish once!" they cried; and the bullock carried them off. And
every little while they went a little mile, and jolted so that they
very nearly tumbled off. Presently the serpent awoke and was very very
wrath. He rose high above the woods and flew after them--oh! how fast
he did fly! Then cried the little Tsar, "Alas! bullock, how hot it
turns. Thou wilt perish, and we shall perish also!"--Then said the
bullock, "Little Tsar! look into my left ear and thou wilt see a
horse-comb. Pull it out and throw it behind thee!"--The little Tsar
took out the comb and threw it behind him, and it became a huge wood,
as thick and jagged as the teeth of a horse-comb. But the bullock went
on at his old pace: every little while they went a little mile, and
jolted so that they nearly tumbled off. The serpent, however, managed
to gnaw his way through the wood, and then flew after them again. Then
cried the little Tsar, "Alas! bullock, it begins to burn again. Thou
wilt perish, and we shall perish also!"--Then said the bullock, "Look
into my right ear, and pull out the brush thou dost find there, and
fling it behind thee!"--So he threw it behind him, and it became a
forest as thick as a brush. Then the serpent came up to the forest and
began to gnaw at it; and at last he gnawed his way right through it.
But the bullock went on at his old pace: every little while they went
a little mile, and they jolted so that they nearly tumbled off. But
when the serpent had gnawed his way through the forest, he again
pursued them; and again they felt a burning. And the little Tsar said,
"Alas! bullock, look! look! how it burns. Look! look! how we perish."
Now the bullock was already nearing the sea. "Look into my right ear,"
said the bullock, "draw out the little handkerchief thou findest
there, and throw it in front of me." He drew it out and flung it, and
before them stood a bridge. Over this bridge they galloped, and by the
time they had done so, the serpent reached the sea. Then said the
bullock to the little Tsar, "Take up the handkerchief again and wave
it behind me." Then he took and waved it till the bridge doubled up
behind them, and went and spread out again right in front of them.
The serpent came up to the edge of the sea; but there he had to stop,
for he had nothing to run upon.

So they crossed over that sea right to the other side, and the serpent
remained on his own side. Then the bullock said to them, "I'll lead
you to a hut close to the sea, and in that hut you must live, and you
must take and slay me." But they fell a-weeping sore. "How shall we
slay thee!" they cried; "thou art our own little dad, and hast saved
us from death!"--"Nay!" said the bullock; "but you must slay me, and
one quarter of me you must hang up on the stove, and the second
quarter you must place on the ground in a corner, and the third
quarter you must put in the corner at the entrance of the hut, and the
fourth quarter you must put round the threshold, so that there will be
a quarter in all four corners." So they took and slew him in front of
the threshold, and they hung his four quarters in the four corners as
he had bidden them, and then they laid them down to sleep. Now the
Tsarevko awoke at midnight, and saw in the right-hand corner a horse
so gorgeously caparisoned that he could not resist rising at once and
mounting it; and in the threshold corner there was a self-slicing
sword, and in the third corner stood the dog _Protius_[9], and in the
stove corner stood the dog _Nedviga_[9]. The little Tsar longed to be
off. "Rise, little sister!" cried he. "God has been good to us! Rise,
dear little sister, and let us pray to God!" So they arose and prayed
to God, and while they prayed the day dawned. Then he mounted his
horse and took the dogs with him, that he might live by what they

   [9] The two fabulous hounds of Ruthenian legend.

So they lived in their hut by the sea, and one day the sister went
down to the sea to wash her bed-linen and her body-linen in the blue
waters. And the serpent came and said to her, "How didst thou manage
to jump over the sea?"--"Look, now!" said she, "we crossed over in
this way. My brother has a handkerchief which becomes a bridge when he
waves it behind him."--And the serpent said to her, "I tell thee what,
ask him for this handkerchief; say thou dost want to wash it, and take
and wave it, and I'll then be able to cross over to thee and live with
thee, and we'll poison thy brother."--Then she went home and said to
her brother, "Give me that handkerchief, dear little brother; it is
dirty, so I'll wash and give it back to thee." And he believed her and
gave it to her, for she was dear to him, and he thought her good and
true. Then she took the handkerchief, went down to the sea, and waved
it--and behold there was a bridge. Then the serpent crossed over to
her side, and they walked to the hut together and consulted as to the
best way of destroying her brother and removing him from God's fair
world. Now it was his custom to rise at dawn, mount his horse, and go
a-hunting, for hunting he dearly loved. So the serpent said to her,
"Take to thy bed and pretend to be ill, and say to him, 'I dreamed a
dream, dear brother, and lo, I saw thee go and fetch me wolf's milk to
make me well.' Then he'll go and fetch it, and the wolves will tear
his dogs to pieces, and then we can take and do to him as we list, for
his strength is in his dogs."

So when the brother came home from hunting the serpent hid himself,
but the sister said, "I have dreamed a dream, dear brother. Methought
thou didst go and fetch me wolf's milk, and I drank of it, and my
health came back to me, for I am so weak that God grant I die
not."--"I'll fetch it," said her brother. So he mounted his horse and
set off. Presently he came to a little thicket, and immediately a
she-wolf came out. Then Protius ran her down and Nedviga held her
fast, and the little Tsar milked her and let her go. And the she-wolf
looked round and said, "Well for thee, little Tsar Novishny, that thou
hast let me go. Methought thou wouldst not let me go alive. For that
thou hast let me go, I'll give thee, little Tsar Novishny, a
wolf-whelp."--Then she said to the little wolf, "Thou shalt serve this
dear little Tsar as though he were thine own dear father." Then the
little Tsar went back, and now there were with him two dogs and a
little wolf-whelp that trotted behind them.

Now the serpent and the false sister saw him coming from afar, and
three dogs trotting behind him. And the serpent said to her, "What a
sly, wily one it is! He has added another watch-dog to his train! Lie
down, and make thyself out worse than ever, and ask bear's milk of
him, for the bears will tear him to pieces without doubt." Then the
serpent turned himself into a needle, and she took him up and stuck
him in the wall. Meanwhile the brother dismounted from his horse and
came with his dogs and the wolf to the hut, and the dogs began
snuffing at the needle in the wall. And his sister said to him, "Tell
me, why dost thou keep these big dogs? They let me have no rest." Then
he called to the dogs, and they sat down. And his sister said to him,
"I dreamed a dream, my brother. I saw thee go and search and fetch me
from somewhere bear's milk, and I drank of it, and my health came back
to me."--"I will fetch it," said her brother.

But first of all he laid him down to sleep. Nedviga lay at his head,
and Protius at his feet, and _Vovchok_[10] by his side. So he slept
through the night, and at dawn he arose and mounted his good steed and
hied him thence. Again they came to a little thicket, and this time a
she-bear came out. Protius ran her down, Nedviga held her fast, and
the little Tsar milked her and let her go. Then the she-bear said,
"Hail to thee, little Tsar Novishny; because thou hast let me go, I'll
give thee a bear-cub." But to the little bear she said, "Obey him as
though he were thine own father." So he set off home, and the serpent
and his sister saw that four were now trotting behind him. "Look!"
said the serpent, "if there are not four running behind him! Shall we
never be able to destroy him? I tell thee what. Ask him to get thee
hare's milk; perhaps his beasts will gobble up the hare before he can
milk it." So he turned himself into a needle again, and she fastened
him in the wall, only a little higher up, so that the dogs should not
get at him. Then, when the little Tsar dismounted from his horse, he
and his dogs came into the hut, and the dogs began snuffing at the
needle in the wall and barked at it, but the brother knew not the
cause thereof. But his sister burst into tears and said, "Why dost
thou keep such monstrous dogs? Such a kennel of them makes me ill with
anguish!" Then he shouted to the dogs, and they sat down quite still.
Then she said to him, "I am so ill, brother, that nothing will make me
well but hare's milk. Go and get it for me."--"I'll get it," said he.

  [10] Little Wolf.

But first he laid him down to sleep. Nedviga lay at his head, Protius
at his feet, and Vovchok and _Medvedik_[11] each on one side. He slept
through the night, but at dawn he mounted his steed, took his pack
with him, and departed. Again he came to a little thicket, and a
she-hare popped out. Protius ran her down, Nedviga held her fast, then
he milked her and let her go. Then the hare said, "Hail to thee,
little Tsar Novishny; because thou hast let me go--I thought thou
wouldst have torn me to pieces with thy dogs--I'll give thee a
leveret." But to the leveret she said, "Obey him, as though he were
thine own father." Then he went home, and again they saw him from
afar. "What a wily rogue it is!" said they. "All five are following
him, and he is as well as ever!"--"Ask him to get thee fox's milk!"
said the serpent; "perhaps when he goes for it his beasts will leave
him in the lurch!" Then he changed himself into a needle, and she
stuck him still higher in the wall, so that the dogs could not get at
him. The Tsar again dismounted from his horse, and his dogs rushed up
to the hut and began snuffing at the needle. But his sister fell
a-weeping, and said, "Why dost thou keep such monstrous dogs?" He
shouted to them, and they sat down quietly on their haunches. Then his
sister said again, "I am ailing, my brother; go and get me fox's milk,
and I shall be well."--"I'll fetch it for thee," said her brother.

  [11] Little Bear.

But first he lay down to sleep. Nedviga lay at his head, Protius at
his feet, and Vovchok, Medvedik, and the leveret by his side. The
little Tsar slept through the night, and at dawn he arose, mounted his
horse, took his pack with him, and went off. They came to a little
thicket, and a vixen popped out. Protius ran her down, Nedviga held
her fast, and the little Tsar milked her and let her go. Then said the
vixen to him, "Thanks to thee, little Tsar Novishny, that thou hast
let me go. Methought thou wouldst tear me in pieces with thy dogs. For
thy kindness I'll give thee a little fox." But to the little fox she
said, "Obey him as though he were thine own father." So he went home,
and they saw him coming from afar, and lo! now he had six guardians,
and yet had come by no harm. "'Tis no good; we shall never do for
him," said the serpent. "Look, now! Make thyself worse than ever, and
say to him, 'I am very ill, my brother, because in another realm, far,
far away, there is a wild boar who ploughs with his nose, and sows
with his ears, and harrows with his tail--and in that same empire
there is a mill with twelve furnaces that grinds its own grain and
casts forth its own meal, and if thou wilt bring me of the meal that
is beneath these twelve furnaces, so that I may make me a cake of it
and eat, my soul shall live.'"--Then her brother said to her,
"Methinks thou art not my sister, but my foe!"--But she replied, "How
can I be thy foe when we two live all alone together in a strange
land?"--"Well, I will get it for thee," said he. For again he believed
in his sister.

So he mounted his steed, took his pack with him, and departed, and he
came to the land where were that boar and that mill she had told him
of. He came up to the mill, tied his horse to it, and entered into it.
And there were twelve furnaces there and twelve doors, and these
twelve doors needed no man to open or shut them, for they opened and
shut themselves. He took meal from beneath the first furnace and went
through the second door, but the dogs were shut in by the doors.
Through all twelve doors he went, and came out again at the first
door, and looked about him, and--there were no dogs to be seen. He
whistled, and he heard his dogs whining where they could not get out.
Then he wept sore, mounted his horse, and went home. He got home, and
there was his sister making merry with the serpent. And no sooner did
the brother enter the hut than the serpent said, "Well, we wanted
flesh, and now flesh has come to us!" For they had just slain a
bullock, and on the ground where they had slain it there sprang up a
whitethorn-tree, so lovely that it may be told of in tales, but
neither imagined nor divined. When the little Tsar saw it, he said,
"Oh, my dear brother-in-law!" (for without his dogs he must needs be
courteous to the serpent) "pray let me climb up that whitethorn-tree,
and have a good look about me!" But the sister said to the serpent,
"Dear friend, make him get ready boiling water for himself, and we
will boil him, for it does not become thee to dirty thy hands."--"Very
well," said the serpent; "he shall make the boiling water ready!" So
they ordered the little Tsar to go and chop wood and get the hot water
ready. Then he went and chopped wood, but as he was doing so, a
starling flew out and said to him, "Not so fast, not so fast, little
Tsar Novishny. Be as slow as thou canst, for thy dogs have gnawed
their way through two doors."

Then the little Tsar poured water into the cauldron, and put fire
under it. But the wood that he had cut was rotten and very very dry,
so that it burned most fiercely, and he took and sprinkled it with
water, and sprinkled it again and again, so that it might not burn too
much. And when he went out into the courtyard for more water, the
starling said to him, "Not so fast, not so fast, little Tsar Novishny,
for thy dogs have gnawed their way through four doors!" As he was
returning to the hut his sister said to him, "That water does not boil
up quickly enough! Take the fire-shovel and poke the fire!" So he did
so, and the faggots blazed up, but when she had gone away he sprinkled
them with water again, so that they might burn more slowly. Then he
went into the courtyard again, and the starling met him and said, "Not
so fast, not so fast, little Tsar; be as slow as thou canst, for thy
dogs have gnawed their way through six doors." Then he returned to the
hut, and his sister again took up the shovel and made him poke up the
fire, and when she went away he again flung water on the burning
coals. So he kept going in and out of the courtyard. "'Tis weary
work!" cried he; but the starling said to him, "Not so fast, not so
fast, little Tsar Novishny, for thy dogs have already gnawed their way
through ten doors!" The little Tsar picked up the rottenest wood he
could find and flung it on the fire, to make believe he was making
haste, but sprinkled it at the same time with water, so that it might
not burn up too quickly, and yet the kettle soon began to boil. Again
he went to the forest for more wood, and the starling said to him,
"Not so fast, not so fast, little Tsar, for thy dogs have already
gnawed their way through all the doors, and are now resting!" But now
the water was boiling, and his sister ran up and said to him, "Come,
boil thyself, be quick; how much longer art thou going to keep us
waiting?" Then he, poor thing, began ladling the boiling water over
himself, while she got the table ready and spread the cloth, that the
serpent might eat her brother on that very table.

But he, poor thing, kept ladling himself, and cried, "Oh, my
dear brother-in-law, pray let me climb up to the top of that
whitethorn-tree; let me have a look out from the top of it, for
thence one can see afar!"--"Don't let him, dear!" said the sister
to the serpent; "he will stay there too long and lose our precious
time."--But the serpent replied, "It doesn't matter, it doesn't
matter; let him climb up if he likes." So the little Tsar went up
to the tree, and began to climb it; he did not miss a single
branch, and stopped a little at each one to gain time, and so he
climbed up to the very top, and then he took out his flute and
began to play upon it. But the starling flew up to him and said,
"Not so fast, little Tsar Novishny, for lo! thy dogs are running to
thee with all their might." But his sister ran out and said,
"What art thou playing up there for? Thou dost forget perhaps that
we are waiting for thee down here!" Then he began to descend the
tree, but he stopped at every branch on his way down, while his
sister kept on calling to him to come down quicker. At last he came
to the last branch, and as he stood upon it and leaped down to
the ground, he thought to himself, "Now I perish!" At that same
instant his dogs and his beasts, growling loudly, came running up,
and stood in a circle around him. Then he crossed himself and said,
"Glory to Thee, O Lord! I have still, perchance, a little time
to live in Thy fair world!" Then he called aloud to the serpent
and said, "And now, dear brother-in-law, come out, for I am ready
for thee!" Out came the serpent to eat him, but he said to his dogs
and his beasts, "Vovchok! Medvedik! Protius! Nedviga! Seize him!"
Then the dogs and the beasts rushed upon him and tore him to bits.

Then the little Tsar collected the pieces and burnt them to ashes, and
the little fox rolled his brush in the ashes till it was covered with
them, and then went out into the open field and scattered them to the
four winds. But while they were tearing the serpent to pieces the
wicked sister knocked out his tooth and hid it. After it was all over
the little Tsar said to her, "As thou hast been such a false friend to
me, sister, thou must remain here while I go into another kingdom."
Then he made two buckets and hung them up on the whitethorn-tree, and
said to his sister, "Look now, sister! if thou weepest for me, this
bucket will fill with tears, but if thou weepest for the serpent that
bucket will fill with blood!" Then she fell a-weeping and praying, and
said to him, "Don't leave me, brother, but take me with thee."--"I
won't," said he; "such a false friend as thou art I'll not have with
me. Stay where thou art." So he mounted his horse, called to him his
dogs and his beasts, and went his way into another kingdom and into
another empire.

He went on and on till he came to a certain city, and in this city
there was only one spring, and in this spring sat a dragon with twelve
heads. And it was so that when any went to draw water from this well
the dragon rose up and ate them, and there was no other place whence
that city could draw its water. So the little Tsar came to that town
and put up at the stranger's inn, and he asked his host, "What is the
meaning of all this running and crying of the people in the
streets?"--"Why, dost thou not know?" said he; "it is the turn of the
Tsar to send his daughter to the dragon!"--Then he went out and
listened, and heard the people say, "The Tsar proclaims that whoever
is able to slay the dragon, to him will he give his daughter and
one-half of his tsardom!" Then little Tsar Novishny stepped forth and
said, "I am able to slay this evil dragon!" So all the people
immediately sent and told the Tsar, "A stranger has come hither who
says he is ready to meet and slay the dragon." Then the Tsar bade them
take him to the watch-house and put him among the guards.

Then they led out the Tsarivna, and behind her they led him, and
behind him came his beasts and his horse. And the Tsarivna was so
lovely and so richly attired that all who beheld her burst into tears.
But the moment the dragon appeared and opened his mouth to devour the
Tsarivna, the little Tsar cried to his self-slicing sword, "Fall upon
him!" and to his beasts he cried, "Protius! Medvedik! Vovchok!
Nedviga! Seize him!" Then the self-slicing sword and the beasts fell
upon him, and tore him into little bits. When they had finished
tearing him, the little Tsar took the remains of the body and burnt
them to ashes, and the little fox took up all the ashes on her tail,
and scattered them to the four winds. Then he took the Tsarivna by the
hand, and led her to the Tsar, and the people rejoiced because their
water was free again. And the Tsarivna gave him the nuptial ring.

Then they set off home again. They went on and on, for it was a long
way from the tsardom of that Tsar, and at last he grew weary and lay
down in the grass, and she sat at his head. Then his lackey crept up
to him, unfastened the self-slicing sword from his side, went up to
the little Tsar, and said, "Self-slicing sword! slay him!" Then the
self-slicing sword cut him into little bits, and his beasts knew
nothing about it, for they were sleeping after their labours. After
that the lackey said to the Tsarivna, "Thou must say now to all men
that I saved thee from death, or if not, I will do to thee what I have
done to him. Swear that thou wilt say this thing!" Then she said, "I
will swear that thou didst save me from death," for she was sore
afraid of the lackey. Then they returned to the city, and the Tsar was
very glad to see them, and clothed the lackey in goodly apparel, and
they all made merry together.

Now when Nedviga awoke he perceived that his master was no longer
there, and immediately awoke all the rest, and they all began to think
and consider which of them was the swiftest. And when they had thought
it well over they judged that the hare was the swiftest, and they
resolved that the hare should run and get living and healing water and
the apple of youth also. So the hare ran to fetch this water and this
apple, and he ran and ran till he came to a certain land, and in this
land the hare saw a spring, and close to the spring grew an apple-tree
with the apples of youth, and this spring and this apple-tree were
guarded by a Muscovite, oh! so strong, so strong, and he waved his
sabre again and again so that not even a mouse could make its way up
to that well. What was to be done? Then the little hare had resort to
subtlety, and made herself crooked, and limped toward the spring as if
she were lame. When the Muscovite saw her he said, "What sort of a
little beast is this? I never saw the like of it before!" So the hare
passed him by, and went farther and farther on till she came right up
to the well. The Muscovite stood there and opened his eyes wide, but
the hare had now got up to the spring, and took a little flask of the
water and nipped off a little apple, and was off in a trice.

She ran back to the little Tsar Novishny, and Nedviga immediately took
the water and sprinkled therewith the fragments of the little Tsar,
and the fragments came together again. Then he poured some of the
living water into his mouth and he became alive, and gave him a bite
of the apple of youth, and he instantly grew young again and stronger
than ever. Then the little Tsar rose upon his feet, stretched himself,
and yawned. "What a long time I've been asleep!" cried he.--"'Tis a
good thing for thee that we got the living and healing water!" said
Protius.--"But what shall we do next?" said they all. Then they all
took council together, and agreed that the little Tsar should disguise
himself as an old man, and so go to the Tsar's palace.

So the little Tsar Novishny disguised himself as an old man, and went
to the palace of the Tsar. And when he got there he begged them to let
him in that he might see the young married people. But the lackeys
would not let him in. Then the Tsarivna herself heard the sound of his
begging and praying, and commanded them to admit him. Now when he
entered the room and took off his cap and cloak, the ring which the
Tsarivna had given him when he slew the serpent sparkled so that she
knew him, but, not believing her own eyes, she said to him, "Come
hither, thou godly old pilgrim, that I may show thee hospitality!"
Then the little Tsar drew near to the table, and the Tsarivna poured
him out a glass of wine and gave it to him, and he took it with his
left hand. She marked that he did not take it with the hand on which
was the ring, so she drank off that glass herself. Then she filled
another glass and gave it him, and he took it with his right hand.
Then she immediately recognized her ring, and said to her father,
"This man is my husband who delivered me from death, but that
fellow"--pointing to the lackey--"that rascally slavish soul killed my
husband and made me say that he was my husband." When the Tsar heard
this he boiled over with rage. "So _that_ is what thou art!" said he
to the lackey, and immediately he bade them bind him and tie him to
the tail of a horse so savage that no man could ride it, and then turn
it loose into the endless steppe. But the little Tsar Novishny sat
down behind the table and made merry.

So the Tsarevko and the Tsarivna lived a long time together in
happiness, but one day she asked him, "What of thy kindred and thy
father's house?" Then he told her all about his sister. She
immediately bade him saddle his horse, and taking his beasts with him,
go in search of her. They came to the place where he had left her, and
saw that the bucket which was put up for the serpent was full of
blood, but that the little Tsar's bucket was all dry and falling to
pieces. Then he perceived that she was still lamenting for the
serpent, and said to her, "God be with thee, but I will know thee no
more. Stay here, and never will I look upon thy face again!" But she
began to entreat and caress and implore him that he would take her
with him. Then the brother had compassion on his sister and took her
away with him.

Now when they got home she took out the serpent's tooth which she had
hidden about her, and put it beneath his pillow on the bed whereon he
slept. And at night-time the little Tsar went to lie down and the
tooth killed him. His wife thought that he was sulky, and therefore
did not speak to her, so she begged him not to be angry; and, getting
no answer, took him by the hand, and lo! his hand was cold, as cold as
lead, and she screamed out. But Protius came bounding through the door
and kissed his master. Then the little Tsar became alive again, but
Protius died. Then Nedviga kissed Protius and Protius became alive,
but Nedviga died. Then the Tsarevko said to Medvedik, "Kiss Nedviga!"
He did so, and Nedviga became alive again, but Medvedik died. And so
they went on kissing each other from the greatest to the smallest,
till the turn came to the hare. She kissed Vovchok and died, but
Vovchok remained alive. What was to be done? Now that the little hare
had died there was none to kiss her back into life again. "Kiss her,"
said the little Tsar to the little fox. But the little fox was artful,
and taking the little hare on his shoulder, he trotted off to the
forest. He carried her to a place where lay a felled oak, with two
branches one on the top of the other, and put the hare on the lower
branch; then he ran under the branch and kissed the hare, but took
good care that the branch should be between them. Thereupon the
serpent's tooth flew out of the hare and fastened itself in the upper
branch, and both fox and hare scampered back out of the forest alive
and well. When the others saw them both alive they rejoiced greatly
that no harm had come to any of them from the tooth. But they seized
the sister and tied her to the tail of a savage horse and let her
loose upon the endless steppe.

So they all lived the merry lives of Tsars who feast continually. And
I was there too, and drank wine and mead till my mouth ran over and it
trickled all down my beard. So there's the whole _kazka_ for you.


Once upon a time in a certain village there lived two neighbours; one
was rich, very rich, and the other so poor that he had nothing in the
world but a little hut, and that was tumbling about his ears. At
length things came to such a pass with the poor man that he had
nothing to eat, and could get work nowhere. Full of grief, he
bethought him what he should do. He thought and thought, and at last
he said, "Look ye, wife! I'll go to my rich neighbour. Perchance he
will lend me a silver rouble; that, at any rate, will be enough to buy
bread with." So he went.

He came to the rich man. "Good health to my lord!" cried he.--"Good
health!"--"I have come on an errand to thee, dear little master!"--"What
may thine errand be?" inquired the rich man.--"Alas! would to God that I
had no need to say it. It has come to such a pass with us that
there's not a crust of bread nor a farthing of money in the house. So I
have come to thee, dear little master; lend us but a silver rouble and
we will be ever thankful to thee, and I'll work myself old to pay it
back."--"But who will stand surety for thee?" asked the rich man.--"I
know not if any man will, I am so poor. Yet, perchance, God and St
Michael will be my sureties," and he pointed at the ikon in the corner.
Then the ikon of St Michael spoke to the rich man from the niche and
said, "Come now! lend it him, and put it down to my account. God will
repay thee!"--"Well," said the rich man, "I'll lend it to thee." So he
lent it, and the poor man thanked him and returned to his home full of

But the rich man was not content that God should give him back his
loan by blessing him in his flocks and herds, and in his children, and
in his health, and in the blessed fruits of the earth. He waited and
waited for the poor man to come and pay him back his rouble, and at
last he went to seek him. "Thou son of a dog," he shouted, before the
house, "why hast thou not brought me back my money? Thou knowest how
to borrow, but thou forgettest to repay!" Then the wife of the poor
man burst into tears. "He would repay thee indeed if he were in this
world," said she, "but lo now! he died but a little while ago!" The
rich man snarled at her and departed, but when he got home he said to
the ikon, "A pretty surety _thou_ art!" Then he took St Michael down
from the niche, dug out his eyes, and began beating him.

He beat St Michael again and again, and at last he flung him into a
puddle and trampled on him. "I'll give it thee for standing me surety
so scurvily," said he. While he was thus abusing St Michael, a young
fellow about twenty years old came along that way, and said to him,
"What art thou doing, my father?"--"I am beating him because he stood
surety and has played me false. He took upon himself the repayment of
a silver rouble, which I lent to the son of a pig, who has since gone
away and died. That is why I am beating him now."--"Beat him not, my
father! I'll give thee a silver rouble, but do thou give me this holy
image!"--"Take him if thou wilt, but see that thou bring me the silver
rouble first."

Then the young man ran home and said to his father, "Dad, give me a
silver rouble!"--"Wherefore, my son?"--"I would buy a holy image,"
said he, and he told his father how he had seen that heathen beating
St Michael.--"Nay, my son, whence shall we who are poor find a silver
rouble to give to him who is so rich?"--"Nay, but give it me, dad!"
and he begged and prayed till he got it. Then he ran back as quickly
as he could, paid the silver rouble to the rich man, and got the holy
image. He washed it clean and placed it in the midst of sweet-smelling
flowers. And so they lived on as before.

Now this youth had three uncles, rich merchants, who sold all manner
of merchandise, and went in ships to foreign lands, where they sold
their goods and made their gains. One day, when his uncles were again
making ready to depart into foreign lands, he said to them, "Take me
with you!"--"Why shouldst thou go?" said they; "we have wares to sell,
but what hast thou?"--"Yet take me," said he.--"But thou hast
nothing."--"I will make me laths and boards and take them with me,"
said he.--His uncles laughed at him for imagining such wares as these,
but he begged and prayed them till they were wearied. "Well, come,"
they said, "though there is naught for thee to do; only take not much
of these wares of thine with thee, for our ships are already
full."--Then he made him laths and boards, put them on board the ship,
took St Michael with him, and they departed.

They went on and on. They sailed a short distance and they sailed a
long distance, till at last they came to another tsardom and another
empire. And the Tsar of this tsardom had an only daughter, so lovely
that the like of her is neither to be imagined nor divined in God's
fair world, neither may it be told in tales. Now this Tsarivna one day
went down to the river to bathe, and plunged into the water without
first crossing herself, whereupon the Evil Spirit took possession of
her. The Tsarivna got out of the water, and straightway fell ill of so
terrible a disease that it may not be told of. Do what they would--and
the wise men and the wise women did their utmost--it was of no avail.
In a few days she grew worse and died. Then the Tsar, her father, made
a proclamation that people should come and read the prayers for the
dead over her dead body, and so exorcise the evil spirit, and
whosoever delivered her was to have half his power and half his

And the people came in crowds--but none of them could read the prayers
for the dead over her, it was impossible. Every evening a man went
into the church, and every morning they swept out his bones, for there
was naught else of him remaining. And the Tsar was very wrath. "All my
people will be devoured," cried he. And he commanded that all the
foreign merchants passing through his realm should be made to read
prayers for the dead over his daughter's body. "And if they will not
read," said he, "they shall not depart from my kingdom."

So the foreign merchants went one by one. In the evening a merchant
was shut up in the church, and in the early morning they came and
found and swept away his bones. At last it came to the turn of the
young man's uncles to read the prayers for the dead in the church.
They wept and lamented and cried, "We are lost! we are lost! Heaven
help us!" Then the eldest uncle said to the lad, "Listen, good
simpleton! It has now come to my turn to read prayers over the
Tsarivna. Do thou go in my stead and pass the night in the church, and
I'll give thee all my ship."--"Nay, but," said the simpleton, "what if
she tear me to pieces too? I won't go!"--But then St Michael said to
him, "Go and fear not! Stand in the very middle of the church, fenced
round about with thy laths and boards, and take with thee a basket
full of pears. When she rushes at thee, take and scatter the pears,
and it will take her till cockcrow to pick them all up. But do thou go
on reading thy prayers all the time, and look not up, whatever she may

When night came, he took up his laths and boards and a basket of
pears, and went to the church. He entrenched himself behind his
boards, stood there and began to read. At dead of night there was a
rustling and a rattling. O Lord! what was that? There was a shaking of
the bier--bang! bang!--and the Tsarivna arose from her coffin and came
straight toward him. She leaped upon the boards and made a grab at him
and fell back. Then she leaped at him again, and again she fell back.
Then he took his basket and scattered the pears. All through the
church they rolled, she after them, and she tried to pick them up till
cockcrow, and at the very first "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" she got into her
bier again and lay still.


When God's bright day dawned, the people came to clean out the church
and sweep away his bones; but there he was reading his prayers, and
the rumour of it went through the town and they were all filled with

Next night it was the turn of the second uncle, and he began to beg
and pray, "Go thou, simpleton, in my stead! Look now, thou hast
already passed a night there, thou mayst very well pass another, and
I'll give thee all my ship."--But he said, "I won't go, I am
afraid."--But then St Michael said to him again, "Fear not, but go!
Fence thee all about with thy boards, and take with thee a basket of
nuts. When she rushes at thee, scatter thy nuts, and the nuts will go
rolling all about the church, and it will take her till cockcrow to
gather them all up. But do thou go on reading thy prayers, nor look
thou up, whatever may happen."

And he did so. He took his boards and the basket of nuts, and went to
the church at nightfall and read. A little after midnight there was a
rustling and an uproar, and the whole church shook. Then came a
fumbling round about the coffin--bang! bang!--up she started, and made
straight for him. She leaped and plunged, she very nearly got through
the boards. She hissed, like seething pitch, and her eyes glared at
him like coals of fire, but it was of no use. He read on and on, and
didn't once look at her. Besides, he scattered his nuts, and she went
after them and tried to pick them all up till cockcrow. And at the
first "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" she leaped into her coffin again and pulled
down the lid. In the morning the people came to sweep away his bones,
and lo! they found him alive.

The next night he had to go again in the third uncle's stead. Then he
sat down and cried and wailed, "Alas, alas! what shall I do? 'Twere
better I had never been born!"--But St Michael said to him, "Weep
not, 'twill all end happily. Fence thyself about with thy boards,
sprinkle thyself all about with holy water, incense thyself with holy
incense, and take me with thee. She shall not have thee. And the
moment she leaves her coffin, do thou jump quickly into it. And
whatever she may say to thee, and however she may implore thee, let
her not get into it again until she says to thee, '_My consort!_'"

So he went. There he stood in the middle of the church, fenced himself
about with his boards, strewed consecrated poppy-seed around him,
incensed himself with holy incense, and read and read. About the
middle of the night a tempest arose outside, and there was a rustling
and a roaring, a hissing and a wailing. The church shook, the altar
candelabra were thrown down, the holy images fell on their faces. O
Lord, how awful! Then came a bang! bang! from the coffin, and again
the Tsarivna started up. She left her coffin and fluttered about the
church. She rushed at the boards and made a snatch at him, and fell
back; she rushed at him again, and again she fell back. She foamed at
the mouth, and her fury every instant grew worse and worse. She dashed
herself about, and darted madly from one corner of the church to the
other, seeking him everywhere. But he skipped into the coffin, with
the image of St Michael by his side. She ran all over the church
seeking him. "He was here--and now he is not here!" cried she. Then
she ran farther on, felt all about her, and cried again, "He was
here--and now he's not here!" At last she sprang up to the coffin, and
there he was. Then she began to beg and pray him, "Come down, come
down! I'll try and catch thee no more, only come down, come down!"
But he only prayed to God, and answered her never a word. Then the
cock crew once, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"--"Alas! come down, come down, _my
consort!_" cried she. Then he came down, and they both fell on their
knees and began praying to God, and wept sore and gave thanks to God
because He had had mercy on them both.

And at dawn of day crowds of people, with the Tsar at the head of
them, came to the church. "Shall we find him reading prayers, or shall
we only find his bones?" said they. And lo! there they both were on
their knees praying fervently to God. Then the Tsar rejoiced greatly,
and embraced both him and her. After that they had a grand service in
the church, and sprinkled her with holy water, and baptized her again,
and the unclean spirit departed from her. Then the Tsar gave the young
man half his power and half his kingdom, but the merchants departed in
their ships, with their nephew on board.


They lived together, and time went on and the young man still remained
a bachelor, and was so handsome that words cannot describe it. But the
Tsar lived alone with his daughter. She, however, grew sadder and
sadder, and was no longer like her former self, so sorrowful was she.
And the Tsar asked her, saying, "Wherefore art thou so sorrowful?"--"I
am not sorrowful, father," said she. But the Tsar watched her, and saw
that she _was_ sorrowful, and there was no help for it. Then he asked
her again, "Art thou ill?"--"Nay, dear dad," said she. "I myself know
not what is the matter with me."

And so it went on, till the Tsar dreamt a dream, and in this dream it
was said to him, "Thy daughter grieves because she loves so much the
youth who drove the unclean spirit out of her." Then the Tsar asked
her, "Dost thou love this youth?"--And she answered, "I do, dear
father."--"Then why didst thou not tell me before, my daughter?" said
he. Then he sent for his heyducks and commanded them, saying, "Go this
instant to such and such a kingdom, and there ye will find the youth
who cured my daughter; bring him to me." Then they went on and on
until they found him, and he took just the same laths and boards that
he had had before, and went with them. The Tsar met him, and bought
all his boards, and when they split them in pieces, lo! they were full
of precious stones. Then the Tsar took him to his own house and gave
him his daughter. And they lived right merrily together.


There was once upon a time a man and a woman, and they had one little
boy. In the summertime they used to go out and mow corn in the fields,
and one summer when they had laid their little lad by the side of a
sheaf, an eagle swooped down, caught up the child, carried him into a
forest, and laid him in its nest. Now in this forest three bandits
chanced to be wandering at the same time. They heard the child crying
in the eagle's nest: "Oo-oo! oo-oo! oo-oo!" so they went up to the oak
on which was the nest and said one to another, "Let us hew down the
tree and kill the child!"--"No," replied one of them, "it were better
to climb up the tree and bring him down alive." So he climbed up the
tree and brought down the lad, and they nurtured him and gave him the
name of Tremsin. They brought up Tremsin until he became a youth, and
then they gave him a horse, set him upon it, and said to him, "Now go
out into the wide world and search for thy father and thy mother!" So
Tremsin went out into the wide world and pastured his steed on the
vast steppes, and his steed spoke to him and said, "When we have gone
a little farther, thou wilt see before thee a plume of the Bird
_Zhar_[12]; pick it not up, or sore trouble will be thine!" Then they
went on again. They went on and on, through ten tsardoms they went,
till they came to another empire in the land of Thrice Ten where lay
the feather. And the youth said to himself, "Why should I not pick up
the feather when it shines so brightly even from afar?" And he went
near to the feather, and it shone so that the like of it cannot be
expressed or conceived or imagined or even told of in tales. Then
Tremsin picked up the feather and went into the town over against him,
and in that town there lived a rich nobleman. And Tremsin entered the
house of this nobleman and said, "Sir, may I not take service with
thee as a labourer?"--The nobleman looked at him, and seeing that he
was comely and stalwart, "Why not? Of course thou mayst," said he. So
he took him into his service. Now this nobleman had many servants, and
they curried his horses for him, and made them smart and glossy
against the day he should go a-hunting. And Tremsin began to curry his
horse likewise, and the servants of the nobleman could not make the
horses of their master so shining bright as Tremsin made his own
horse. So they looked more closely, and they perceived that when
Tremsin cleaned his horse he stroked it with the feather of the Bird
Zhar, and the coat of the good steed straightway shone like burnished
silver. Then those servants were filled with envy, and said among
themselves, "How can we remove this fellow from the world? We'll
saddle him with a task he is unable to do, and then our master will
drive him away."--So they went to their master and said, "Tremsin has
a feather of the Bird Zhar, and he says that if he likes he can get
the Bird Zhar itself." Then the nobleman sent for Tremsin and said to
him, "O Tremsin! my henchmen say that thou canst get the Bird Zhar if
thou dost choose."--"Nay, but I cannot," replied Tremsin.--"Answer me
not," said the nobleman, "for so sure as I've a sword, I'll slice thy
head off like a gourd."--Then Tremsin fell a-weeping and went away to
his horse. "My master," said he, "hath given me a task to do that will
clean undo me."--"What task is that?" asked the horse.--"Why, to fetch
him the Bird Zhar."--"Why that's not a task, but a trifle," replied
the horse. "Let us go to the steppes," it continued, "and let me go
a-browsing; but do thou strip thyself stark-naked and lie down in the
grass, and the Bird Zhar will straightway swoop down to feed. So long
as she only claws about thy body, touch her not; but as soon as she
begins to claw at thine eyes, seize her by the legs."

  [12] _I.e._ Burning bright.

So when they got to the wild steppes, Tremsin stripped himself naked
and flung himself in the grass, and, immediately, the Bird Zhar
swooped down and began pecking all about him, and at last she pecked
at his eyes. Then Tremsin seized her by both legs, and mounted his
horse and took the Bird Zhar to the nobleman. Then his fellow-servants
were more envious than ever, and they said among themselves, "How
shall we devise for him a task to do that cannot be done, and so rid
the world of him altogether?" So they bethought them, and then they
went to the nobleman and said, "Tremsin says that to get the Bird Zhar
was nothing, and that he is also able to get the thrice-lovely
Nastasia of the sea." Then the nobleman again sent for Tremsin and
said to him, "Look now! thou didst get for me the Bird Zhar, see that
thou now also gettest for me the thrice-lovely Nastasia of the
sea."--"But I cannot, sir!" said Tremsin.--"Answer me not so!"
replied the nobleman, "for so sure as I've a sword, I'll slice thy
head off like a gourd an thou bring her not."--Then Tremsin went out
to his horse and fell a-weeping.--"Wherefore dost thou weep?" asked
the faithful steed.--"Wherefore should I not weep?" he replied. "My
master has given me a task that cannot be done."--"What task is
that?"--"Why, to fetch him the thrice-lovely Nastasia of the
sea!"--"Oh-ho!" laughed the horse, "that is not a task, but a trifle.
Go to thy master and say, 'Cause white tents to be raised by the
sea-shore, and buy wares of sundry kinds, and wine and spirits in
bottles and flasks,' and the thrice-lovely Nastasia will come and
purchase thy wares, and then thou mayst take her."

And the nobleman did so. He caused white tents to be pitched by the
sea-shore, and bought kerchiefs and scarves and spread them out gaily,
and made great store of wine and brandy in bottles and flasks. Then
Tremsin rode toward the tents, and while he was on the way his horse
said to him, "Now when I go to graze, do thou lie down and feign to
sleep. Then the thrice-lovely Nastasia will appear and say, 'What for
thy wares?' but do thou keep silence. But when she begins to taste of
the wine and the brandy, then she will go to sleep in the tent, and
thou canst catch her easily and hold her fast!" Then Tremsin lay down
and feigned to sleep, and forth from the sea came the thrice-lovely
Nastasia, and went up to the tents and asked, "Merchant, merchant,
what for thy wares?" But he lay there, and moved never a limb. She
asked the same thing over and over again, but, getting no answer, went
into the tents where stood the flasks and the bottles. She tasted of
the wine. How good it was! She tasted of the brandy. That was still
better. So from tasting she fell to drinking. First she drank a
little, and then she drank a little more, and at last she went asleep
in the tent. Then Tremsin seized the thrice-lovely Nastasia and put
her behind him on horseback, and carried her off to the nobleman. The
nobleman praised Tremsin exceedingly, but the thrice-lovely Nastasia
said, "Look now! since thou hast found the feather of the Bird Zhar,
and the Bird Zhar herself, since also thou hast found me, thou must
now fetch me also my little coral necklace from the sea!" Then Tremsin
went out to his faithful steed and wept sorely, and told him all about
it. And the horse said to him, "Did I not tell thee that grievous woe
would come upon thee if thou didst pick up that feather?" But the
horse added, "Come! weep not! after all 'tis not a task, but a
trifle." Then they went along by the sea, and the horse said to him,
"Let me out to graze, and then keep watch till thou seest a crab come
forth from the sea, and then say to him, 'I'll catch thee.'"--So
Tremsin let his horse out to graze, and he himself stood by the
sea-shore, and watched and watched till he saw a crab come swimming
along. Then he said to the crab, "I'll catch thee."--"Oh! seize me
not!" said the crab, "but let me get back into the sea, and I'll be of
great service to thee."--"Very well," said Tremsin, "but thou must get
me from the sea the coral necklace of the thrice-lovely Nastasia," and
with that he let the crab go back into the sea again. Then the crab
called together all her young crabs, and they collected all the coral
and brought it ashore, and gave it to Tremsin. Then the faithful
steed came running up, and Tremsin mounted it, and took the coral to
the thrice-lovely Nastasia. "Well," said Nastasia, "thou hast got the
feather of the Bird Zhar, thou hast got the Bird Zhar itself, thou
hast got me my coral, get me now from the sea my herd of wild
horses!"--Then Tremsin was sore distressed, and went to his faithful
steed and wept bitterly, and told him all about it. "Well," said the
horse, "this time 'tis no trifle, but a real hard task. Go now to thy
master, and bid him buy twenty hides, and twenty poods[13] of pitch,
and twenty poods of flax, and twenty poods of hair."--So Tremsin went
to his master and told him, and his master bought it all. Then Tremsin
loaded his horse with all this, and to the sea they went together. And
when they came to the sea the horse said, "Now lay upon me the hides
and the tar and the flax, and lay them in this order--first a hide,
and then a pood of tar, and then a pood of flax, and so on, laying
them thus till they are all laid." Tremsin did so. "And now," said the
horse, "I shall plunge into the sea, and when thou seest a large red
wave driving toward the shore, run away till the red wave has passed
and thou dost see a white wave coming, and then sit down on the shore
and keep watch. I shall then come out of the sea, and after me the
whole herd; then thou must strike with the horsehair the horse which
gallops immediately after me, and he will not be too strong for
thee."--So the faithful steed plunged into the sea, and Tremsin sat
down on the shore and watched. The horse swam to a bosquet that rose
out of the sea, and there the herd of sea-horses was grazing. When
the strong charger of Nastasia saw him and the hides he carried on his
back, it set off after him at full tilt, and the whole herd followed
the strong charger of Nastasia. They drove the horse with the hides
into the sea, and pursued him. Then the strong charger of Nastasia
caught up the steed of Tremsin and tore off one of his hides, and
began to worry it with his teeth and tear it to fragments as he ran.
Then he caught him up a second time, and tore off another hide, and
began to worry that in like manner till he had torn it also to shreds;
and thus he ran after Tremsin's steed for seventy miles, till he had
torn off all the hides, and worried them to bits. But Tremsin sat upon
the sea-shore till he saw the large white billow bounding in, and
behind the billow came his own horse, and behind his own horse came
the thrice-terrible charger of the thrice-lovely Nastasia, with the
whole herd at his heels. Tremsin struck him full on the forehead with
the twenty poods of hair, and immediately he stood stock still. Then
Tremsin threw a halter over him, mounted, and drove the whole herd to
the thrice-lovely Nastasia. Nastasia praised Tremsin for his prowess,
and said to him, "Well, thou hast got the feather of the Bird Zhar,
thou hast got the Bird Zhar itself, thou hast got me my coral and my
herd of horses, now milk my mare and put the milk into three vats, so
that there may be milk hot as boiling water in the first vat, lukewarm
milk in the second vat, and icy cold milk in the third vat." Then
Tremsin went to his faithful steed and wept bitterly, and the horse
said to him, "Wherefore dost thou weep?"--"Why should I not weep?"
cried he; "the thrice-lovely Nastasia has given me a task to do that
cannot be done. I am to fill three vats with the milk from her mare,
and the milk must be boiling hot in the first vat, and lukewarm in the
second, and icy cold in the third vat."--"Oh-ho!" cried the horse,
"that is not a task, but a trifle. I'll caress the mare, and then go
on nibbling till thou hast milked all three vats full." So Tremsin did
so. He milked the three vats full, and the milk in the first vat was
boiling hot, and in the second vat warm, and in the third vat freezing
cold. When all was ready the thrice-lovely Nastasia said to Tremsin,
"Now, leap first of all into the cold vat, and then into the warm vat,
and then into the boiling hot vat!"--Tremsin leaped into the first
vat, and leaped out again an old man; he leaped into the second vat,
and leaped out again a youth; he leaped into the third vat, but when
he leaped out again, he was so young and handsome that no pen can
describe it, and no tale can tell of it. Then the thrice-lovely
Nastasia herself leaped into the vats. She leaped into the first vat,
and came out an old woman; she leaped into the second vat, and came
out a young maid; but when she leaped out of the third vat, she was so
handsome and goodly that no pen can describe it, and no tale can tell
of it. Then the thrice-lovely Nastasia made the nobleman leap into the
vats. He leaped into the first vat, and became quite old; he leaped
into the second vat, and became quite young; he leaped into the third
vat, and burst to pieces. Then Tremsin took unto himself the
thrice-lovely Nastasia to wife, and they lived happily together on the
nobleman's estate, and the evil servants they drove right away.

  [13] A pood = 40 lb.


There was once a gentleman who had a labourer who never went about in
company. His fellow-servants did all they could to make him come with
them, and now and then enticed him into the tavern, but they could
never get him to stay there long, and he always wandered away by
himself through the woods. One day he went strolling about in the
forest as usual, far from any village and the haunts of men, when he
came upon a huge Serpent, which wriggled straight up to him and said,
"I am going to eat thee on the spot!" But the labourer, who was used
to the loneliness of the forest, replied, "Very well, eat me if thou
hast a mind to!"--Then the Serpent said, "Nay! I will not eat thee;
only do what I tell thee!" And the Serpent began to tell the man what
he had to do. "Turn back home," it said, "and thou wilt find thy
master angry because thou hast tarried so long, and there was none to
work for him, so that his corn has to remain standing in the field.
Then he will send thee to bring in his sheaves, and I'll help thee.
Load the wagon well, but don't take quite all the sheaves from the
field. Leave one little sheaf behind; more than that thou needst not
leave, but that thou must leave. Then beg thy master to let thee have
this little sheaf by way of wages. Take no money from him, but that
one little sheaf only. Then, when thy master has given thee this
sheaf, burn it, and a fair lady will leap out of it; take her to

The labourer obeyed, and went and worked for his master as the
Serpent had told him. He went out into the field to bring home his
master's corn, and marvellously he managed it. He did all the carrying
himself, and loaded the wagon so heavily that it creaked beneath its
burden. Then when he had brought home all his master's corn, he begged
that he might have the remaining little sheaf for himself. He refused
to be rewarded for his smart labour, he would take no money; he wanted
nothing for himself, he said, but the little sheaf he had left in the
field. So his master let him have the sheaf. Then he went out by
himself into the field, burnt the sheaf, just as the Serpent had told
him, and immediately a lovely lady leapt out of it. The labourer
forthwith took and married her; and now he began to look out for a
place to build him a hut upon. His master gave him a place where he
might build his hut, and his wife helped him so much with the building
of it that it seemed to him as if he himself never laid a hand to it.
His hut grew up as quick as thought, and it contained everything that
they wanted. The man could not understand it; he could only walk about
and wonder at it. Wherever he looked there was everything quite spick
and span and ready for use: none in the whole village had a better
house than he.

And so he might have lived in all peace and prosperity to the end of
his days had not his desires outstripped his deserts. He had three
fields of standing corn, and when he came home one day his labourers
said to him, "Thy corn is not gathered in yet, though it is standing
all ripe on its stalks." Now the season was getting on, and for all
the care and labour of his wife, the corn was still standing in the
field. "Why, what's the meaning of this?" thought he. Then in his
anger he cried, "I see how it is. Once a serpent, always a serpent!"
He was quite beside himself all the way home, and was very wrath with
his wife because of the corn.

When he got home he went straight to his chamber to lie down on his
pillow. There was no sign of his wife, but a huge serpent was just
coiling itself round and round and settling down in the middle of the
pillow. Then he called to mind how, once, his wife had said to him,
"Beware, for Heaven's sake, of ever calling me a serpent. I will not
suffer thee to call me by that name, and if thou dost thou shalt lose
thy wife." He called this to mind now, but it was already too late;
what he had said could not be unsaid. Then he reflected what a good
wife he had had, and how she herself had sought him out, and how she
had waited upon him continually and done him boundless good, and yet
he had not been able to refrain his tongue, so that now, maybe, he
would be without a wife for the rest of his days. His heart grew heavy
within him as he thought of all this, and he wept bitterly at the harm
he had done to himself. Then the Serpent said to him, "Weep no more.
What is to be, must be. Is it thy standing corn thou art grieved
about? Go up to thy barn, and there thou wilt find all thy corn lying,
to the very last little grain. Have I not brought it all home and
threshed it for thee, and set everything in order? And now I must
depart to the place where thou didst first find me." Then she crept
off, and the man followed her, weeping and mourning all the time as
for one already dead. When they reached the forest she stopped and
coiled herself round and round beneath a hazel-nut bush. Then she said
to the man, "Now kiss me once, but see to it that I do not bite
thee!"--Then he kissed her once, and she wound herself round a branch
of a tree and asked him, "What dost thou feel within thee?"--He
answered, "At the moment when I kissed thee it seemed to me as if I
knew everything that was going on in the world!"--Then she said to him
again, "Kiss me a second time!"--"And what dost thou feel now?" she
asked when he had kissed her again.--"Now," said he, "I understand all
languages which are spoken among men."--Then she said to him, "And now
kiss me a third time, but this will be for the last time." Then he
kissed the Serpent for the last time, and she said to him, "What dost
thou feel now?"--"Now," said he, "I know all that is going on under
the earth."--"Go now," said she, "to the Tsar, and he will give thee
his daughter for the knowledge thou hast. But pray to God for poor me,
for now I must be and remain a serpent for ever." And with that the
Serpent uncoiled herself and disappeared among the bushes, but the man
went away and wedded the Tsar's daughter.


There was once upon a time a youth called Unlucky Dan. Wherever he
went, and whatever he did, and with whomsoever he served, nothing came
of it: all his labour was like spilt water, he got no good from it.
One day he took service with a new master. "I'll serve thee a whole
year," said he, "for a piece of sown wheat-land." His master agreed,
and he entered into his service, and at the same time he sowed his
piece of wheat-land. His wheat shot up rapidly. When his master's
wheat was in the stalk, his was already in the ear, and when his
master's wheat was in the ear, his own wheat was already ripe. "I'll
reap it to-morrow," thought he. The same night a cloud arose, the hail
poured down, and destroyed his wheat altogether. Daniel fell
a-weeping. "I'll go serve another master," he cried, "perhaps God will
then prosper me!" So he went to another master. "I'll serve thee for a
whole year," said he, "if thou wilt give me that wild colt." So he
stopped and served him, and by the end of the year he trained the wild
colt so well that he made a carriage-horse out of it. "Oh-ho!" thought
he, "I shall take away something with me this time!" The same night
the wolves made an inroad upon the stables and tore the horse to
pieces. Daniel fell a-weeping. "I'll go to another master," said he,
"perhaps I shall be luckier there." So he went to a third master, and
on this master's tomb lay a large stone. Whence it came none knew, and
it was so heavy that none could move it, though they tried for ages.
"I'll serve thee a year," said he, "for that stone." The master
agreed, and he entered his service. Then a change came over the stone,
and divers flowers began to grow upon it. On one side they were red,
on the second side silver, and on the third side golden. "Oh-ho,"
thought Daniel, "that stone, at any rate, will soon be mine. Nobody
can move it." But the next morning a thunderbolt descended and struck
the stone, and shivered it to atoms. Then Daniel fell a-weeping, and
lamented that God had given him nothing, though he had served for so
many years. But the people said to him, "Listen now! thou that art so
unlucky, why dost thou not go to the Tsar? He is the father of us all,
and will therefore certainly care for thee!" So he listened to them
and went, and the Tsar gave him a place at his court. One day the Tsar
said to him, "I marvel that thou art so unlucky, for do whatsoever
thou wilt, thou art none the better for it. I would fain requite thee
for all thy labours." Then he took and filled three barrels, the first
with gold, and the second with coal, and the third with sand, and said
to Daniel, "Look now! if thou dost pitch upon that which is filled
with gold, thou shalt be a Tsar; if thou dost choose the one that is
filled with coal, thou shalt be a blacksmith; but if thou dost pick
out the one that is full of sand, why then thou art indeed hopelessly
unlucky, and out of my tsardom thou must go straightway, yet I will
give thee a horse and armour to take along with thee." So Daniel was
brought to the place where were the three barrels, and went about them
and felt and felt them one after the other. "This one is full of
gold!" said he. They broke it open and it was full of sand. "Well,"
said the Tsar, "I see that thou art hopelessly unlucky. Depart from my
tsardom, for I have no need at all of such as thou." Then he gave him
a charger and armour, and the full equipment of a Cossack, and sent
him away.

He went on and on for a whole day, he went on and on for a second
day, and there was nothing to eat, either for his horse or himself.
He went for a third day, and in the distance he saw a hay-cock. "That
will do for my horse, at any rate," thought he, "even if it is of no
good to me." So he went up to it, and immediately it burst into
flames. Daniel began to weep, when he heard a voice crying piteously,
"Save me, save me! I am burning!"--"How can I save thee," he cried,
"when I myself cannot draw near?"--"Oh! give me thy weapon!" cried
the voice, "and I'll seize hold of it, and then thou canst pull me
out." So he stretched forth his weapon, and drew forth a goodly
serpent, such as is only known of in old folk-songs. And she said
to him, "Since thou hast drawn me out, thou must also take me
home."--"How shall I carry thee?" asked he.--"Carry me on thy horse,
and in whatsoever direction I turn my head and his, thither go."--So
he took her upon his horse, and they went on and on till they came to
a court so splendid that it was a delight to look at it. Then she
glided down from his charger and said, "Wait here, and I'll soon be
with thee again," and with that she wriggled under the gate. He stood
there and stood and waited and waited till he wept from sheer
weariness; but, at last, she came out again in the shape of a
lovely damsel in gorgeous raiment, and opened the gate for him.
"Lead in thy horse," said she, "and eat and rest awhile." So they
went into the courtyard, and in the midst of it stood two springs.
The lady drew out of one of these springs a little glass of water,
and strewing a handful of oats beside it, said, "Fasten up thy
horse here!"--"What!" thought he, "for these three days we have had
naught to eat or drink, and now she mocks us with a handful of
oats!"--Then they went together to the guest-chamber, and she gave
him there a little glass of water and a small piece of wheaten
bread.--"Why, what is this for a hungry man like me?" thought he.
But when he chanced to glance through the window, he saw that the
whole courtyard was full of oats and water, and that his horse had
already eaten its fill. Then he nibbled his little piece of wheaten
bread and sipped his water, and his hunger was immediately satisfied.
"Well," said the lady, "hast thou eaten thy fill?"--"That I have,"
he replied.--"Then lie down and rest awhile," said she. And the next
morning, when he rose up, she said to him, "Give me thy horse, thy
armour, and thy raiment, and I'll give thee mine in exchange."--Then
she gave him her shift and her weapon, and said, "This sword is of
such a sort that, if thou do but wave it, all men will fall down
before thee; and as for this shift, when once thou hast it on, none
will be able to seize thee. And now go on thy way till thou come
to an inn, and there they will tell thee that the Tsar of that land is
seeking warriors. Go and offer thyself to him, and thou shalt marry
his daughter, but tell her not the truth for seven years!" Then they
took leave of each other, and he departed. He came to the inn, and
there they asked him whence he came. And when they knew that he came
from a strange land, they said to him, "A strange people has
attacked our Tsar, and he cannot defend himself, for a mighty
warrior has conquered his tsardom and carried off his daughter, and
worries him to death."--"Show me the way to your Tsar," said
Daniel. Then they showed him, and he went. When he came to the Tsar,
he said to him, "I will subdue this strange land for thee. All the
army I want is a couple of Cossacks, but they must be picked men."
Then the heralds went through the tsardom till they had found
these two Cossacks, and Daniel went forth with them into the endless
steppes, and there he bade them lie down and sleep while he kept
watch. And while they slept the army of the strange country came upon
them, and cried to Daniel to turn back if he would escape destruction.
And then they began to fire with their guns and cannons, and they
fired so many balls that the bodies of the two Cossacks were quite
covered by them. Then Daniel waved his sword and smote, and only those
whom his blows did not reach escaped alive. So he vanquished them
all, and conquered that strange land, and came back and married the
Tsar's daughter, and they lived happily together.


But counsellors from the strange land whispered dark sayings in the
ears of the Tsarivna. "What is this fellow that thou hast taken to
thyself? Who is he, and whence? Find out for us wherein lies his
strength, that we may destroy him and take thee away."--Then she began
asking him, and he said to her, "Look now! all my strength is in these
gloves." Then she waited till he was asleep, and drew them off him,
and gave them to the people from the strange land. And the next day he
went hunting, and the evil counsellors surrounded and shot at him with
their darts, and beat him with the gloves; but it was all in vain.
Then he waved his sword, and whomsoever he struck fell to the ground,
and he clapped them all in prison. But his wife caressed and wheedled
him again, and said, "Nay, but tell me, wherein doth thy strength
lie?"--"My strength, darling," said he, "lies in my boots." Then she
drew off his boots while he slept, and gave them to his enemies. And
they fell upon him again as he went out, but again he waved his sword,
and as many as he struck fell to the ground, and he put them all in
prison. Then his wife wheedled and caressed him the third time. "Nay,
but tell me, darling," quoth she, "wherein doth thy strength lie?"
Then he was wearied with her beseeching, and said to her, "My strength
lies in this sword of mine, and in my shirt, and so long as I have
this shirt on, nobody can touch me." Then she caressed and fondled
him, and said, "Thou shouldst take a bath, my darling, and well wash
thyself. My father always did so." So he let himself be persuaded, and
no sooner had he undressed than she changed all his clothes for
others, and gave his sword and his shirt to his enemies. Then he came
out of his bath, and immediately they fell upon him, cut him to
pieces, put him in a sack, placed him on his horse, and let the horse
go where it would. So the horse went on and on, and wandered farther
and farther, till it came to the old place where he had stayed with
the Serpent Lady. And when his benefactress saw him, she said, "Why,
if poor unlucky Daniel hasn't fallen into a scrape again." And
immediately she took him out of the sack, and fitted his pieces
together, and washed them clean, and took healing water from one of
the springs, and living water from the other, and sprinkled him all
over, and he stood there sound and strong again. "Now, did I not bid
thee tell not thy wife the truth for seven years?" said she, "and thou
wouldst not take heed." And he stood there, and spoke never a word.
"Well, now, rest awhile," she continued, "for thou dost need it, and
then I'll give thee something else." So the next day she gave him a
chain, and said to him, "Listen! Go to that inn where thou didst go
before, and early next morning, whilst thou art bathing, bid the
innkeeper beat thee with all his might on the back with this chain,
and so thou wilt get back to thy wife, but tell her not a word of what
has happened." So he went to this same inn and passed the night there,
and, on the morrow, he called the innkeeper, and said to him, "Look
now! the first time I dip my head in the water, beat me about the back
with this chain as hard as thou canst." So the innkeeper waited till
he had ducked his head under the water, and then he thrashed him with
the chain, whereupon he turned into a horse so beautiful that it was a
delight to look upon it. The innkeeper was so glad, so glad. "So I've
got rid of one guest only to get another one," thought he. He lost no
time in taking the horse to the fair, and offered it for sale, and
among those who saw it was the Tsar himself. "What dost thou ask for
it?" said the Tsar.--"I ask five thousand roubles." Then the Tsar
counted down the money and took the horse away. When he got to his
court, he made a great to-do about his beautiful horse, and cried to
his daughter, "Come and see, dear little heart, what a fine horse I
have bought." Then she came forth to look at it; but the moment she
saw it, she cried, "That horse will be my ruin. Thou must kill it on
the spot."--"Nay, dear little heart! how can I do such a thing?" said
the Tsar.--"Slay it thou must, and slay it thou shalt!" cried the
Tsarivna. So they sent for a knife, and began sharpening it, when one
of the maidens of the court took pity on the horse, and cried, "Oh, my
good, my darling horse, so lovely as thou art, and yet to kill thee!"
But the horse neighed and went to her, and said, "Look now! take the
first drop of blood which flows from me, and bury it in the garden."
Then they slew the horse, but the maiden did as she was told, and took
the drop of blood and buried it in the garden. And from this drop of
blood there sprang up a cherry-tree; and its first leaf was golden,
and its second leaf was of richer colour still, and its third leaf was
yet another colour, and every leaf upon it was different to the
others. One day the Tsar went out walking in his garden, and when he
saw this cherry-tree he fell in love with it, and praised it to his
daughter. "Look!" said he, "what a beauteous cherry-tree we have in
our garden! Who can tell whence it sprung?"--But the moment the
Tsarivna saw it, she cried, "That tree will be my ruin! Thou must cut
it down."--"Nay!" said he, "how can I cut down the fairest ornament of
my garden?"--"Down it must come, and down it shall come!" replied the
Tsarivna. Then they sent for an axe and made ready to cut it down, but
the damsel came running up, and said, "Oh, darling little cherry-tree,
darling little cherry-tree, so fair thou art! From a horse hast thou
sprung, and now they will fell thee before thou hast lived a
day!"--"Never mind," said the cherry-tree; "take the first chip that
falls from me, and throw it into the water."--Then they cut down the
cherry-tree; but the girl did as she was bidden, and threw the first
chip from the cherry-tree into the water, and out of it swam a drake
so beautiful that it was a delight to look upon it. Then the Tsar went
a-hunting, and saw it swimming in the water, and it was so close that
he could touch it with his hand. The Tsar took off his clothes and
plunged into the water after it, and it enticed him farther and
farther away from the shore. Then the drake swam toward the spot where
the Tsar had left his clothes, and when it came up to them it changed
into a man and put them on, and behold! the man was Daniel. Then he
called to the Tsar: "Swim hither, swim hither!" The Tsar swam up, but
when he swam ashore Daniel met and killed him, and after that he went
back to court in the Tsar's clothes. Then all the courtiers hailed him
as the Tsar, but he said, "Where is that damsel who was here just
now?"--They brought her instantly before him. "Well," said he to her,
"thou hast been a second mother to me, and now thou shalt be my
second wife!" So he lived with her and was happy, but he caused his
first wife to be tied to the tails of wild horses and torn to pieces
in the endless steppes.



A sparrow once flew down upon a bush and said, "Little bush, give good
little sparrow a swing."--"I won't!" said the little bush. Then the
sparrow was angry, and went to the goat and said, "Goat, goat, nibble
bush, bush won't give good little sparrow a swing."--"I won't!" said
the goat.--Then the sparrow went to the wolf and said, "Wolf, wolf,
eat goat, goat won't nibble bush, bush won't give good little sparrow
a swing."--"I won't!" said the wolf.--Then the sparrow went to the
people and said, "Good people, kill wolf, wolf won't eat goat, goat
won't nibble bush, bush won't give good little sparrow a swing."--"We
won't!" said the people.--Then the sparrow went to the Tartars and
said, "Tartars, Tartars, slay people, people won't kill wolf, wolf
won't eat goat, goat won't nibble bush, bush won't give good little
sparrow a swing."--But the Tartars said, "We won't slay the people!"
and the people said, "We won't kill the wolf!" and the wolf said, "I
won't eat the goat!" and the goat said, "I won't nibble the bush!" and
the bush said, "I won't give the good little sparrow a swing."--"Go!"
said the bush, "to the fire, for the Tartars won't slay the people,
and the people won't kill the wolf, and the wolf won't eat the goat,
and the goat won't nibble the bush, and the bush won't give the dear
little sparrow a swing."--But the fire also said, "I won't!" (they
were all alike)--"go to the water," said he.--So the sparrow went to
the water and said, "Come water, quench fire, fire won't burn Tartars,
Tartars won't slay people, people won't kill wolf, wolf won't eat
goat, goat won't nibble bush, bush won't give good little sparrow a
swing."--But the water also said, "I won't!" So the sparrow went to
the ox and said, "Ox, ox, drink water, water won't quench fire, fire
won't burn Tartars, Tartars won't slay people, people won't kill wolf,
wolf won't eat goat, goat won't nibble bush, bush won't give little
sparrow a swing."--"I won't!" said the ox.--Then the sparrow went to
the pole-axe and said, "Pole-axe, pole-axe, strike ox, ox won't drink
water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn Tartars, Tartars won't
slay people, people won't kill wolf, wolf won't eat goat, goat won't
nibble bush, bush won't give little sparrow a swing."--"I won't!" said
the pole-axe.--So the sparrow went to the worms and said, "Worms,
worms, gnaw pole-axe, pole-axe won't strike ox, ox won't drink water,
water won't quench fire, fire won't burn Tartars, Tartars won't slay
people, people won't kill wolf, wolf won't eat goat, goat won't nibble
bush, bush won't give little sparrow a swing."--"We won't!" said the
worms.--Then the sparrow went to the hen and said, "Hen, hen, peck
worms, worms won't gnaw pole-axe, pole-axe won't strike ox, ox won't
drink water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn Tartars, Tartars
won't slay people, people won't kill wolf, wolf won't eat goat, goat
won't nibble bush, bush won't give little sparrow a swing."--"I
won't!" said the hen, "but go to the sparrow-hawk, he ought to give
the first push, or why is he called the Pusher!"[14]--So the sparrow
went to the sparrow-hawk and said, "Come, pusher, seize hen, hen
won't peck worms, worms won't gnaw pole-axe, pole-axe won't strike
ox, ox won't drink water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn
Tartars, Tartars won't slay people, people won't kill wolf, wolf won't
eat goat, goat won't nibble bush, bush won't give little sparrow a

  [14] _Shulyak_ means both _sparrow-hawk_ and _push_.

Then the sparrow-hawk began to seize the hen, the hen began to peck
the worms, the worms began to gnaw the pole-axe, the pole-axe began to
hit the ox, the ox began to drink the water, the water began to quench
the fire, the fire began to burn the Tartars, the Tartars began to
slay the people, the people began to kill the wolf, the wolf began to
eat the goat, the goat began to nibble the bush, and the bush cried

  "_Swing away, swing away, swi-i-i-i-ing!
  Little daddy sparrow, have your fli-i-i-ing!_"


There was once a man who had a dog. While the dog was young he was
made much of, but when he grew old he was driven out of doors. So he
went and lay outside the fence, and a wolf came up to him and said,
"Doggy, why so down in the mouth?"--"While I was young," said the dog,
"they made much of me; but now that I am old they beat me." The wolf
said, "I see thy master in the field; go after him, and perchance
he'll give thee something."--"Nay," said the dog, "they won't even let
me walk about the fields now, they only beat me."--"Look now," said
the wolf, "I'm sorry, and will make things better for thee. Thy
mistress, I see, has put her child down beneath that wagon. I'll seize
it, and make off with it. Run thou after me and bark, and though thou
hast no teeth left, touzle me as much as thou canst, so that thy
mistress may see it."

So the wolf seized the child, and ran away with it, and the dog ran
after him, and began to touzle him. His mistress saw it, and made
after them with a harrow, crying at the same time, "Husband, husband!
the wolf has got the child! Gabriel, Gabriel! don't you see? The wolf
has got the child!" Then the man chased the wolf, and got back the
child. "Brave old dog!" said he; "you are old and toothless, and yet
you can give help in time of need, and will not let your master's
child be stolen." And henceforth the woman and her husband gave the
old dog a large lump of bread every day.


In a certain forest there once lived a fox, and near to the fox lived
a man who had a cat that had been a good mouser in its youth, but was
now old and half blind. The man didn't want puss any longer, but not
liking to kill it, took it out into the forest and lost it there. Then
the fox came up and said, "Why, Mr Shaggy Matthew! How d'ye do! What
brings you here?"--"Alas!" said Pussy, "my master loved me as long as
I could bite, but now that I can bite no longer and have left off
catching mice--and I used to catch them finely once--he doesn't like
to kill me, but he has left me in the wood where I must perish
miserably."--"No, dear Pussy!" said the fox; "you leave it to me, and
I'll help you to get your daily bread."--"You are very good, dear
little sister foxey!" said the cat, and the fox built him a little
shed with a garden round it to walk about in.

Now one day the hare came to steal the man's cabbage.
"Kreem-kreem-kreem!" he squeaked. But the cat popped his head out of
the window, and when he saw the hare, he put up his back and stuck up
his tail and said, "Ft-t-t-t-t-Frrrrrrr!" The hare was frightened and
ran away and told the bear, the wolf, and the wild boar all about it.
"Never mind," said the bear, "I tell you what, we'll all four give a
banquet, and invite the fox and the cat, and do for the pair of them.
Now, look here! I'll steal the man's mead; and you, Mr Wolf, steal his
fat-pot; and you, Mr Wildboar, root up his fruit-trees; and you, Mr
Bunny, go and invite the fox and the cat to dinner."

So they made everything ready as the bear had said, and the hare ran
off to invite the guests. He came beneath the window and said, "We
invite your little ladyship Foxey-Woxey, together with Mr Shaggy
Matthew, to dinner"--and back he ran again.--"But you should have told
them to bring their spoons with them," said the bear.--"Oh, what a
head I've got! if I didn't quite forget!" cried the hare, and back he
went again, ran beneath the window and cried, "Mind you bring your
spoons!"--"Very well," said the fox.

So the cat and the fox went to the banquet, and when the cat saw the
bacon, he put up his back and stuck out his tail, and cried, "Mee-oo,
mee-oo!" with all his might. But they thought he said, "Ma-lo,
ma-lo[15]!"--"What!" said the bear, who was hiding behind the beeches
with the other beasts, "here have we four been getting together all we
could, and this pig-faced cat calls it too little! What a monstrous
cat he must be to have such an appetite!" So they were all four very
frightened, and the bear ran up a tree, and the others hid where they
could. But when the cat saw the boar's bristles sticking out from
behind the bushes he thought it was a mouse, and put up his back again
and cried, "Ft! ft! ft! Frrrrrrr!" Then they were more frightened than
ever. And the boar went into a bush still farther off, and the wolf
went behind an oak, and the bear got down from the tree, and climbed
up into a bigger one, and the hare ran right away.

  [15] What a little! What a little!

But the cat remained in the midst of all the good things and ate away
at the bacon, and the little fox gobbled up the honey, and they ate
and ate till they couldn't eat any more, and then they both went home
licking their paws.


There was once upon a time an old man and an old woman. The old man
worked in the fields as a pitch-burner, while the old woman sat at
home and spun flax. They were so poor that they could save nothing at
all; all their earnings went in bare food, and when that was gone
there was nothing left. At last the old woman had a good idea. "Look
now, husband," cried she, "make me a straw ox, and smear it all over
with tar."--"Why, you foolish woman!" said he, "what's the good of an
ox of that sort?"--"Never mind," said she, "you just make it. I know
what I am about."--What was the poor man to do? He set to work and
made the ox of straw, and smeared it all over with tar.

The night passed away, and at early dawn the old woman took her
distaff, and drove the straw ox out into the steppe to graze, and she
herself sat down behind a hillock, and began spinning her flax, and
cried, "Graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax! Graze away,
little ox, while I spin my flax!" And while she spun, her head drooped
down and she began to doze, and while she was dozing, from behind the
dark wood and from the back of the huge pines a bear came rushing out
upon the ox and said, "Who are you? Speak and tell me!"--And the ox
said, "A three-year-old heifer am I, made of straw and smeared with
tar."--"Oh!" said the bear, "stuffed with straw and trimmed with tar,
are you? Then give me of your straw and tar, that I may patch up my
ragged fur again!"--"Take some," said the ox, and the bear fell upon
him and began to tear away at the tar. He tore and tore, and buried
his teeth in it till he found he couldn't let go again. He tugged and
he tugged, but it was no good, and the ox dragged him gradually off
goodness knows where. Then the old woman awoke, and there was no ox to
be seen. "Alas! old fool that I am!" cried she, "perchance it has gone
home." Then she quickly caught up her distaff and spinning-board,
threw them over her shoulders, and hastened off home, and she saw that
the ox had dragged the bear up to the fence, and in she went to the
old man. "Dad, dad!" she cried, "look, look! the ox has brought us a
bear. Come out and kill it!" Then the old man jumped up, tore off the
bear, tied him up, and threw him in the cellar.

Next morning, between dark and dawn, the old woman took her distaff
and drove the ox into the steppe to graze. She herself sat down by a
mound, began spinning, and said, "Graze, graze away, little ox, while
I spin my flax! Graze, graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax!"
And while she spun, her head drooped down and she dozed. And, lo! from
behind the dark wood, from the back of the huge pines, a grey wolf
came rushing out upon the ox and said, "Who are you? Come, tell
me!"--"I am a three-year-old heifer, stuffed with straw and trimmed
with tar," said the ox.--"Oh! trimmed with tar, are you? Then give me
of your tar to tar my sides, that the dogs and the sons of dogs tear
me not!"--"Take some," said the ox. And with that the wolf fell upon
him and tried to tear the tar off. He tugged and tugged, and tore with
his teeth, but could get none off. Then he tried to let go, and
couldn't; tug and worry as he might, it was no good. When the old
woman woke, there was no heifer in sight. "Maybe my heifer has gone
home!" she cried; "I'll go home and see." When she got there she was
astonished, for by the palings stood the ox with the wolf still
tugging at it. She ran and told her old man, and her old man came and
threw the wolf into the cellar also.

On the third day the old woman again drove her ox into the pastures to
graze, and sat down by a mound and dozed off. Then a fox came running
up. "Who are you?" it asked the ox.--"I'm a three-year-old heifer,
stuffed with straw and daubed with tar."--"Then give me some of your
tar to smear my sides with, when those dogs and sons of dogs tear my
hide!"--"Take some," said the ox. Then the fox fastened her teeth in
him and couldn't draw them out again. The old woman told her old man,
and he took and cast the fox into the cellar in the same way. And
after that they caught Pussy Swift-foot[16] likewise.

  [16] The hare.

So when he had got them all safely, the old man sat down on a bench
before the cellar and began sharpening a knife. And the bear said to
him, "Tell me, daddy, what are you sharpening your knife for?"--"To
flay your skin off, that I may make a leather jacket for myself and
a pelisse for my old wife."--"Oh! don't flay me, daddy dear! Rather
let me go, and I'll bring you a lot of honey."--"Very well, see you
do it," and he unbound and let the bear go. Then he sat down on the
bench and again began sharpening his knife. And the wolf asked him,
"Daddy, what are you sharpening your knife for?"--"To flay off your
skin, that I may make me a warm cap against the winter."--"Oh!
don't flay me, daddy dear, and I'll bring you a whole herd of
little sheep."--"Well, see that you do it," and he let the wolf go.
Then he sat down and began sharpening his knife again. The fox put out
her little snout and asked him, "Be so kind, dear daddy, and tell me
why you are sharpening your knife!"--"Little foxes," said the old
man, "have nice skins that do capitally for collars and trimmings,
and I want to skin you!"--"Oh! don't take my skin away, daddy dear,
and I will bring you hens and geese."--"Very well, see that you do
it!" and he let the fox go. The hare now alone remained, and the
old man began sharpening his knife on the hare's account. "Why do
you do that?" asked puss, and he replied, "Little hares have nice
little soft warm skins, which will make me gloves and mittens
against the winter!"--"Oh! daddy dear! don't flay me, and I'll
bring you kale and good cauliflower, if only you let me go!" Then he
let the hare go also.

Then they went to bed, but very early in the morning, when it was
neither dusk nor dawn, there was a noise in the doorway like
"Durrrrrr!"--"Daddy!" cried the old woman, "there's some one
scratching at the door, go and see who it is!" The old man went out,
and there was the bear carrying a whole hive full of honey. The old
man took the honey from the bear, but no sooner did he lie down than
again there was another "Durrrrr!" at the door. The old man looked out
and saw the wolf driving a whole flock of sheep into the yard. Close
on his heels came the fox, driving before him geese and hens and all
manner of fowls; and last of all came the hare, bringing cabbage and
kale and all manner of good food. And the old man was glad, and the
old woman was glad. And the old man sold the sheep and oxen and got so
rich that he needed nothing more. As for the straw-stuffed ox, it
stood in the sun till it fell to pieces.


There was once upon a time an old man and an old woman, and the old
man had a daughter, and the old woman had a daughter. And the old
woman said to the old man, "Go and buy a heifer, that thy daughter may
have something to look after!" So the old man went to the fair and
bought a heifer.

Now the old woman spoiled her own daughter, but was always snapping at
the old man's daughter. Yet the old man's daughter was a good,
hard-working girl, while as for the old woman's daughter, she was but
an idle slut. She did nothing but sit down all day with her hands in
her lap. One day the old woman said to the old man's daughter, "Look
now, thou daughter of a dog, go and drive out the heifer to graze!
Here thou hast two bundles of flax. See that thou unravel it, and reel
it, and bleach it, and bring it home all ready in the evening!" Then
the girl took the flax and drove the heifer out to graze.

So the heifer began to graze, but the girl sat down and began to weep.
And the heifer said to her, "Tell me, dear little maiden, wherefore
dost thou weep?"--"Alas! why should I not weep? My stepmother has
given me this flax and bidden me unravel it, and reel it, and bleach
it, and bring it back as cloth in the evening."--"Grieve not, maiden!"
said the heifer, "it will all turn out well. Lie down to sleep!"--So
she lay down to sleep, and when she awoke the flax was all unravelled
and reeled and spun into fine cloth, and bleached. Then she drove the
heifer home and gave the cloth to her stepmother. The old woman took
it and hid it away, that nobody might know that the old man's daughter
had brought it to her.

The next day she said to her own daughter, "Dear little daughter,
drive the heifer out to graze, and here is a little piece of flax for
thee, unravel it and reel it, or unravel it not and reel it not as
thou likest best, but bring it home with thee." Then she drove the
heifer out to graze, and threw herself down in the grass, and slept
the whole day, and did not even take the trouble to go and moisten the
flax in the cooling stream. And in the evening she drove the heifer
back from the field and gave her mother the flax. "Oh, mammy!" she
said, "my head ached so the whole day, and the sun scorched so, that I
couldn't go down to the stream to moisten the flax."--"Never mind,"
said her mother, "lie down and sleep; it will do for another day."

And the next day she called the old man's daughter again, "Get up,
thou daughter of a dog, and take the heifer out to graze. And here
thou hast a bundle of raw flax; unravel it, heckle it, wind it on to
thy spindles, bleach it, weave with it, and make it into fine cloth
for me by the evening!"--Then the girl drove out the heifer to graze.
The heifer began grazing, but she sat down beneath a willow-tree, and
threw her flax down beside her, and began weeping with all her might.
But the heifer came up to her and said, "Tell me, little maiden,
wherefore dost thou weep?"--"Why should I not weep?" said she, and she
told the heifer all about it.--"Grieve not!" said the heifer, "it
will all come right, but lie down to sleep."--So she lay down and
immediately fell asleep. And by evening the bundle of raw flax was
heckled and spun and reeled, and the cloth was woven and bleached, so
that one could have made shirts of it straight off. Then she drove the
heifer home, and gave the cloth to her stepmother.


Then the old woman said to herself, "How comes it that this daughter
of the son of a dog has done all her task so easily? The heifer must
have got it done for her, I know. But I'll put a stop to all this,
thou daughter of the son of a dog," said she. Then she went to the old
man and said, "Father, kill and cut to pieces this heifer of thine,
for because of it thy daughter does not a stroke of work. She drives
the heifer out to graze, and goes to sleep the whole day and does
nothing."--"Then I'll kill it!" said he.--But the old man's daughter
heard what he said, and went into the garden and began to weep
bitterly. The heifer came to her and said, "Tell me, dear little
maiden, wherefore dost thou weep?"--"Why should I _not_ weep," she
said, "when they want to kill thee?"--"Don't grieve," said the heifer,
"it will all come right. When they have killed me, ask thy stepmother
to give thee my entrails to wash, and in them thou wilt find a grain
of corn. Plant this grain of corn, and out of it will grow up a
willow-tree, and whatever thou dost want, go to this willow-tree and
ask, and thou shalt have thy heart's desire."

Then her father slew the heifer, and she went to her stepmother and
said, "Prythee, let me have the entrails of the heifer to wash!"--And
her stepmother answered, "As if I would let anybody else do such work
but thee!"--Then she went and washed them, and sure enough she found
the grain of corn, planted it by the porch, trod down the earth, and
watered it a little. And the next morning, when she awoke, she saw
that a willow-tree had sprung out of this grain of corn, and beneath
the willow-tree was a spring of water, and no better water was to be
found anywhere in the whole village. It was as cold and as clear as

When Sunday came round, the old woman tricked her pet daughter out
finely, and took her to church, but to the old man's daughter she
said, "Look to the fire, thou slut! Keep a good fire burning and get
ready the dinner, and make everything in the house neat and tidy, and
have thy best frock on, and all the shirts washed against I come back
from church. And if thou hast not all these things done, thou shalt
say good-bye to dear life."

So the old woman and her daughter went to church, and the smart little
stepdaughter made the fire burn up, and got the dinner ready, and then
went to the willow-tree and said, "Willow-tree, willow-tree, come out
of thy bark! Lady Anna, come when I call thee!" Then the willow-tree
did its duty, and shook all its leaves, and a noble lady came forth
from it. "Dear little lady, sweet little lady, what are thy commands?"
said she.--"Give me," said she, "a grand dress and let me have a
carriage and horses, for I would go to God's House!"--And immediately
she was dressed in silk and satin, with golden slippers on her feet,
and the carriage came up and she went to church.

When she entered the church there was a great to-do, and every one
said, "Oh! oh! oh! Who is it? Is it perchance some princess or some
queen? for the like of it we have never seen before." Now the young
Tsarevich chanced to be in church at that time. When he saw her, his
heart began to beat. He stood there, and could not take his eyes off
her. And all the great captains and courtiers marvelled at her and
fell in love with her straightway. But who she was, they knew not.
When service was over, she got up and drove away. When she got home,
she took off all her fine things, and put on all her rags again, and
sat in the window-corner and watched the folk coming from church.

Then her stepmother came back too. "Is the dinner ready?" said
she.--"Yes, it is ready."--"Hast thou sewn the shirts?"--"Yes, the
shirts are sewn too."--Then they sat down to meat, and began to relate
how they had seen such a beautiful young lady at church.--"The
Tsarevich," said the old woman, "instead of saying his prayers, was
looking at her all the while, so goodly was she." Then she said to the
old man's daughter, "As for thee, thou slut! though thou _hast_ sewn
the shirts and bleached them, thou art but a dirty under-wench!"

On the following Sunday the stepmother again dressed up her daughter,
and took her to church. But, before she went, she said to the old
man's daughter, "See that thou keep the fire in, thou slut!" and she
gave her a lot of work to do. The old man's daughter very soon did it
all, and then she went to the willow-tree and said, "Bright spring
willow, bright spring willow, change thee, transform thee!" Then
still statelier dames stepped forth from the willow-tree, "Dear little
lady, sweet little lady, what commands hast thou to give?" She told
them what she wanted, and they gave her a gorgeous dress, and put
golden shoes on her feet, and she went to church in a grand carriage.
The Tsarevich was again there, and at the sight of her he stood as if
rooted to the ground, and couldn't take his eyes from her. Then the
people began to whisper, "Is there none here who knows her? Is there
none who knows who such a handsome lady may be!" And they began to ask
each other, "Dost _thou_ know her? Dost _thou_ know her?"--But the
Tsarevich said, "Whoever will tell me who this great lady is, to him
will I give a sack-load of gold ducats!"--Then they inquired and
inquired, and laid all their heads together, but nothing came of it.
But the Tsarevich had a jester who was always with him, and used
always to jest and cut capers whenever this child of the Tsar was sad.
So now, too, he began to laugh at the young Tsarevich and say to him,
"I know how to find out who this fine lady is."--"How?" asked the
young Tsarevich.--"I'll tell thee," said the jester; "smear with pitch
the place in church where she is wont to stand. Then her slippers will
stick to it, and she, in her hurry to get away, will never notice that
she has left them behind her in church."--So the Tsarevich ordered his
courtiers to smear the spot with pitch straightway. Next time, when
the service was over, she got up as usual and hastened away, but left
her golden slippers behind her. When she got home she took off her
costly raiment and put on her rags, and waited in the window-corner
till they came from church.

When they came from church they had all sorts of things to talk about,
and how the young Tsarevich had fallen in love with the grand young
lady, and how they were unable to tell him whence she came, or who she
was, and the stepmother hated the old man's daughter all the more
because she had done her work so nicely.

But the Tsarevich did nothing but pine away. And they proclaimed
throughout the kingdom, "Who has lost a pair of golden slippers?" But
none could tell. Then the Tsar sent his wise councillors throughout
the kingdom to find her. "If ye do not find her," said he, "it will be
the death of my child, and then ye also are dead men."

So the Tsar's councillors went through all the towns and villages, and
measured the feet of all the maidens against the golden slippers, and
she was to be the bride of the Tsarevich whom the golden slippers
fitted. They went to the houses of all the princes, and all the
nobles, and all the rich merchants, but it was of no avail. The feet
of all the maidens were either too little or too large. Then they hied
them to the huts of the peasants.


They went on and on, they measured and measured, and at last they were
so tired that they could scarce draw one foot after the other. Then
they looked about them and saw a beautiful willow-tree standing by a
hut, and beneath the willow-tree was a spring of water. "Let us go and
rest in the cool shade," said they. So they went and rested, and the
old woman came out of the hut to them.--"Hast thou a daughter, little
mother?" said they.--"Yes, that I have," said she.--"One or two?" they
asked.--"Well, there is another," said she, "but she is not my
daughter, she is a mere kitchen slut, the very look of her is
nasty."--"Very well," said they, "we will measure them with the golden
slippers."--"Good!" cried the old woman. Then she said to her own
daughter, "Go, my dear little daughter, tidy thyself up a bit, and
wash thy little feet!"--But the old man's daughter she drove behind
the stove, and the poor thing was neither washed nor dressed. "Sit
there, thou daughter of a dog!" said she.--Then the Tsar's councillors
came into the hut to measure, and the old woman said to her daughter,
"Put out thy little foot, darling!"--The councillors then measured
with the slippers, but they wouldn't fit her at all. Then they said,
"Tell us, little mother, where is thy other daughter?"--"Oh, as for
her, she is a mere slut, and besides she isn't dressed."--"No matter,"
said they; "where is she?"--Then she came out from behind the stove,
and her stepmother hustled her and said, "Get along, thou sluttish
hussy!"--Then they measured her with the slippers, and they fitted
like gloves, whereupon the courtiers rejoiced exceedingly and praised
the Lord.

"Well, little mother," said they, "we will take this daughter away
with us."--"What! take a slattern like that? Why, all the people will
laugh at you!"--"Maybe they will," said they.--Then the old woman
scolded, and wouldn't let her go. "How can such a slut become the
consort of the Tsar's son?" screeched she.--"Nay, but she must come!"
said they; "go, dress thyself, maiden!"--"Wait but a moment," said
she, "and I'll tire myself as is meet!"--Then she went to the spring
beneath the willow-tree, and washed and dressed herself, and she came
back so lovely and splendid that the like of it can neither be thought
of nor guessed at, but only told of in tales. As she entered the hut
she shone like the sun, and her stepmother had not another word to

So they put her in a carriage and drove off, and when the Tsarevich
saw her, he could not contain himself. "Make haste, O my father!"
cried he, "and give us thy blessing." So the Tsar blessed them, and
they were wedded. Then they made a great feast and invited all the
world to it. And they lived happily together, and ate wheat-bread to
their hearts' content.


There was once upon a time a parson who had a servant, and when this
servant had served him faithfully for twelve years and upward, he came
to the parson and said, "Let us now settle our accounts, master, and
pay me what thou owest me. I have now served long enough, and would
fain have a little place in the wide world all to myself."--"Good!"
said the parson. "I'll tell thee now what wage I'll give thee for thy
faithful service. I'll give thee this egg. Take it home, and when thou
gettest there, make to thyself a cattle-pen, and make it strong; then
break the egg in the middle of thy cattle-pen, and thou shalt see
something. But whatever thou doest, don't break it on thy way home, or
all thy luck will leave thee."

So the servant departed on his homeward way. He went on and on, and at
last he thought to himself, "Come now, I'll see what is inside this
egg of mine!" So he broke it, and out of it came all sorts of cattle
in such numbers that the open steppe became like a fair. The servant
stood there in amazement, and he thought to himself, "However in God's
world shall I be able to drive all these cattle back again?" He had
scarcely uttered the words when the Iron Wolf came running up, and
said to him, "I'll collect and drive back all these cattle into the
egg again, and I'll patch the egg up so that it will become quite
whole. But in return for that," continued the Iron Wolf, "whenever
thou dost sit down on the bridal bench,[17] I'll come and eat
thee."--"Well," thought the servant to himself, "a lot of things may
happen before I sit down on the bridal bench and he comes to eat me,
and in the meantime I shall get all these cattle. Agreed, then," said
he. So the Iron Wolf immediately collected all the cattle, and drove
them back into the egg, and patched up the egg and made it whole just
as it was before.

  [17] Posad, or posag, a bench covered with white cloth on which the
       bride and bridegroom sat down together.

The servant went home to the village where he lived, made him a
cattle-pen stronger than strong, went inside it and broke the egg, and
immediately that cattle-pen was as full of cattle as it could hold.
Then he took to farming and cattle-breeding, and he became so rich
that in the whole wide world there was none richer than he. He kept to
himself, and his goods increased and multiplied exceedingly; the only
thing wanting to his happiness was a wife, but a wife he was afraid to
take. Now near to where he lived was a General who had a lovely
daughter, and this daughter fell in love with the rich man. So the
General went and said to him, "Come, why don't you marry? I'll give
you my daughter and lots of money with her."--"How is it possible for
me to marry?" replied the man; "as soon as ever I sit down on the
bridal bench, the Iron Wolf will come and eat me up." And he told the
General all that had happened.--"Oh, nonsense!" said the General,
"don't be afraid. I have a mighty host, and when the time comes for
you to sit down on the bridal bench, we'll surround your house with
three strong rows of soldiers, and _they_ won't let the Iron Wolf get
at you, I can tell you." So they talked the matter over till he let
himself be persuaded, and then they began to make great preparations
for the bridal banquet. Everything went off excellently well, and they
made merry till the time came when bride and bridegroom were to sit
down together on the bridal bench. Then the General placed his men in
three strong rows all round the house so as not to let the Iron Wolf
get in; and no sooner had the young people sat down upon the bridal
bench, than, sure enough, the Iron Wolf came running up. He saw the
host standing round the house in three strong rows, but through all
three rows he leaped and made straight for the house. But the man, as
soon as he saw the Iron Wolf, leaped out of the window, mounted his
horse, and galloped off with the wolf after him.

Away and away he galloped, and after him came the wolf, but try as it
would, it could not catch him up anyhow. At last, toward evening, the
man stopped and looked about him, and saw that he was in a lone
forest, and before him stood a hut. He went up to this hut, and saw an
old man and an old woman sitting in front of it, and said to them,
"Would you let me rest a little while with you, good people?"--"By all
means!" said they.--"There is one thing, however, good people!" said
he, "don't let the Iron Wolf catch me while I am resting with
you."--"Have no fear of that!" replied the old couple. "We have a dog
called Chutko,[18] who can hear a wolf coming a mile off, and he'll be
sure to let us know." So he laid him down to sleep, and was just
dropping off when Chutko began to bark. Then the old people awoke him,
and said, "Be off! be off! for the Iron Wolf is coming." And they
gave him the dog, and a wheaten hearth-cake as provision by the way.

  [18] Hearkener.

So he went on and on, and the dog followed after him till it began to
grow dark, and then he perceived another hut in another forest. He
went up to that hut, and in front of it were sitting an old man and an
old woman. He asked them for a night's lodging. "Only," said he, "take
care that the Iron Wolf doesn't catch me!"--"Have no fear of that,"
said they. "We have a dog here called Vazhko,[19] who can hear a wolf
nine miles off." So he laid him down and slept. Just before dawn
Vazhko began to bark. Immediately they awoke him. "Run!" cried they,
"the Iron Wolf is coming!" And they gave him the dog, and a barley
hearth-cake as provision by the way. So he took the hearth-cake, sat
him on his horse, and off he went, and his two dogs followed after

  [19] Heavysides.

He went on and on. On and on he went till evening, when again he
stopped and looked about him, and he saw that he was in another
forest, and another little hut stood before him. He went into the hut,
and there were sitting an old man and an old woman. "Will you let me
pass the night here, good people?" said he; "only take care that the
Iron Wolf does not get hold of me!"--"Have no fear!" said they, "we
have a dog called Bary, who can hear a wolf coming twelve miles off.
He'll let us know." So he lay down to sleep, and early in the morning
Bary let them know that the Iron Wolf was drawing nigh. Immediately
they awoke him. "'Tis high time for you to be off!" said they. Then
they gave him the dog, and a buckwheat hearth-cake as provision by the
way. He took the hearth-cake, sat him on his horse, and off he went.
So now he had three dogs, and they all three followed him.

He went on and on, and toward evening he found himself in front of
another hut. He went into it, and there was nobody there. He went and
lay down, and his dogs lay down also, Chutko on the threshold of the
room door, Vazhko at the threshold of the house door, and Bary at the
threshold of the outer gate. Presently the Iron Wolf came trotting up.
Immediately Chutko gave the alarm, Vazhko nailed him to the earth, and
Bary tore him to pieces.

Then the man gathered his faithful dogs around him, mounted his horse,
and went back to his own home.


There were, once upon a time, three brothers, and the third was a
fool. And in their little garden grew golden apple-trees with golden
apples, and not far off lived a hog that had taken a fancy to these
apples. So the father sent his sons into the garden to guard the
trees. The eldest went first, and sat and sat and watched and watched
till he was tired of watching, and fell asleep. Then the hog crept in,
and dug and dug till he had digged up an apple-tree, which he ate up,
and then went his way. The father got up next morning and counted his
apple-trees, and one of them was gone. The next night the father sent
the second son to watch. He waited and watched till he also fell
asleep, and the hog came again and dug up and ate another golden
apple-tree and made off. The next morning the father got up again and
counted his trees, and another was gone. Then the fool said, "Dad, let
me go too!" But the father said, "Oh, fool, fool, wherefore shouldst
thou go? Thy wise brethren have watched to no purpose, what canst thou
do?"--"Hoity-toity!" said the fool; "give me a gun, and I'll go all
the same." His father wouldn't give him a gun, so he took it, and went
to watch. He placed his gun across his knees and sat down. He sat and
sat, but nothing came, nothing came; he got drowsy, was nodding off,
when his gun fell off his knees, and he awoke with a start and watched
more warily. At last he heard something--and there stood the hog. It
began to dig up another tree, when he pulled the trigger and--bang!
His brothers heard the sound, came running up, were quite amazed to
see a dead boar lying there, and said, "What will become of us
now?"--"Let us kill him," said the eldest brother, "and bury him in
that ditch, and say that we killed the hog." So they took and slew
him, and buried him in the ditch, and took the hog to their father,
and said, "While we were watching, this hog came up and began digging,
so we killed him and have brought him to you."

One day a nobleman came by that way, and was surprised to see a
beautiful elder-bush growing out of the ditch; so he went up to it,
cut off a branch, made him a flute out of it, and began playing upon
it. But the flute played of its own accord, and made this moan:

  "_Play, good master, play,
  But steal not my heart away!
  Me my brothers took and slew,
  In the ditch my body threw,
  For that hog shot down by me
  That rooted up the tree._"

The nobleman then went on to the inn, and there he found the fool's
father. "Such a funny thing has happened to me," said the nobleman. "I
went and cut me out a flute from an elder-bush, and lo! it plays of
its own accord!" Then the father took the flute and tried his hand at
it, and it sang:

  "_Play, good daddy, play,
  But don't steal my heart away!
  Me my brothers took and slew,
  In the ditch my body threw,
  For that hog shot down by me,
  That rooted up the tree!_"

The father was so astonished that he bought it, and took it home, and
gave it to the mother for her to play upon it, and it sang:

  "_Play, good mammy, play,
  But don't steal my heart away!
  Me my brothers took and slew,
  In the ditch my body threw,
  For that hog shot down by me,
  That rooted up the tree!_"

Then the father gave the flute to his brothers to play upon, but they
wouldn't. "Nay, but you must!" said their father. Then the younger
brother took and played upon it:

  "_Play, my brother, play,
  But don't steal my heart away!
  Me my brothers took and slew,
  In the ditch my body threw,
  For the hog shot down by me,
  That rooted up the tree!_"

Then the father gave the flute to the elder brother who had slain him,
but he wouldn't take it. "Take it and play upon it!" roared his father
at him. Then he took it and played:

  "_Play, my brother, play,
  But don't steal my heart away!
  'Twas thou who didst me slay,
  And stowed my corpse away,
  For the hog shot down by me,
  That rooted up the tree!_"

"Then it was thou who didst slay him?" cried the father. What could
the elder brother do but confess it! Then they dug the dead man up,
and buried him in the cemetery; but they tied the elder brother to a
wild horse, which scattered his bones about the endless steppe.

But I was there, and drank wine and mead till my beard was wet.


Somewhere, nowhere, in a certain kingdom, in a certain empire, time
out of mind, and in no land of ours, dwelt a Tsar who was so proud, so
very proud, that he feared neither God nor man. He listened to no good
counsel from whithersoever it might come, but did only that which was
good in his own eyes, and nobody durst put him right. And all his
ministers and nobles grieved exceedingly, and all the people grieved

One day this Tsar went to church; the priest was reading from Holy
Scripture, and so he needs must listen. Now there were certain words
there which pleased him not. "To say such words to me!" thought he,
"words that I can never forget, though I grow grey-headed." After
service the Tsar went home, and bade them send the priest to him.
The priest came. "How durst thou read such and such passages to me?"
said the Tsar.--"They were written to be read," replied the
priest.--"Written, indeed! And wouldst thou then read everything that
is written? Smear those places over with grease, and never dare to
read them again, I say!"--"'Tis not I who have written those words,
your Majesty," said the priest; "nor is it for such as I to smear
them over."--"What! thou dost presume to teach me? I am the Tsar, and
it is thy duty to obey me."--"In all things will I obey thee, O
Tsar, save only in sacred things. God is over them, men cannot
alter them."--"Not alter them!" roared the Tsar; "if I wish them
altered, altered they must be. Strike me out those words instantly,
I say, and never dare read them in church again. Dost hear?"--"I dare
not," said the priest, "I have no will in the matter."--"I command
thee, fellow!"--"I dare not, O Tsar!"--"Well," said the Tsar, "I'll
give thee three days to think about it, and on the evening of the
fourth day appear before me, and I'll strike thy head from thy
shoulders if thou dost not obey me!" Then the priest bowed low and
went home.

The third day was already drawing to a close, and the priest knew not
what to do. It was no great terror to him to die for the faith, but
what would become of his wife and children? He walked about, and wept,
and wrung his hands: "Oh, woe is me! woe is me!" At last he lay down
on his bed, but sleep he could not. Only toward dawn did he doze off,
then he saw in a dream an angel standing at his head. "Fear nothing!"
said the angel. "God hath sent me down on earth to protect thee!" So,
early in the morning, the priest rose up full of joy and prayed
gratefully to God.

The Tsar also awoke early in the morning, and bawled to his huntsmen
to gather together and go a-hunting with him in the forest.

So away they went hunting in the forest, and it was not long before a
stag leaped out of the thicket beneath the very eyes of the Tsar. Off
after it went the Tsar; every moment the stag seemed to be faltering,
and yet the Tsar could never quite come up with it. Hot with
excitement, the Tsar spurred his horse on yet faster. "Gee up! gee
up!" he cried; "now we've got him!" But here a stream crossed the
road, and the stag plunged into the water. The Tsar was a good
swimmer. "I've got him now, at any rate," thought he. "A little
longer, and I shall hold him by the horns." So the Tsar took off his
clothes, and into the water he plunged after the stag. But the stag
swam across to the opposite bank, and the Tsar was extending his hand
to seize him by the horns--when there was no longer any stag to be
seen. It was the angel who had taken the form of a stag. The Tsar was
amazed. He looked about him on every side, and wondered where the stag
had gone. Then he saw some one on the other side of the river putting
on his clothes, and presently the man mounted his horse and galloped
away. The Tsar thought it was some evil-doer, but it was the self-same
angel that had now put on the Tsar's clothes and gone away to collect
the huntsmen and take them home. As for the Tsar, he remained all
naked and solitary in the forest.

At last he looked about him and saw, far, far away, smoke rising above
the forest, and something like a dark cloud standing in the clear sky.
"Maybe," thought he, "that is my hunting-pavilion." So he went in the
direction of the smoke, and came at last to a brick-kiln. The
brick-burners came forth to meet him, and were amazed to see a naked
man. "What is he doing here?" they thought. And they saw that his feet
were lame and bruised, and his body covered with scratches. "Give me
to drink," said he, "and I would fain eat something also." The
brick-burners had pity on him; they gave him an old tattered garment
to wear and a piece of black bread and a gherkin to eat. Never from
the day of his birth had the Tsar had such a tasty meal. "And now
speak, O man!" said they; "who art thou?"--"I'll tell you who I am,"
said he, when he had eaten his fill; "I am your Tsar. Lead me to my
capital, and there I will reward you!"--"What, thou wretched rogue!"
they cried, "thou dost presume to mock us, thou old ragamuffin, and
magnify thyself into a Tsar! Thou reward us, indeed!" And they looked
at him in amazement and scorn.--"Dare to laugh at me again," said he,
"and I'll have your heads chopped off!" For he forgot himself, and
thought he was at home.--"What! thou!" Then they fell upon him and
beat him. They beat him and hauled him about most unmercifully, and
then they drove him away, and off he went bellowing through the

He went on and on till at last he saw once more a smoke rising up out
of the wood. Again he thought, "That is surely my hunting-pavilion,"
and so he went up to it. And toward evening he came to another
brick-kiln. There, too, they had pity upon and kindly entreated him.
They gave him to eat and to drink. They also gave him ragged hose and
a tattered shirt, for they were very poor people. They took him to be
a runaway soldier, or some other poor man, but when he had eaten his
fill and clothed himself, he said to them, "I am your Tsar!" They
laughed at him, and again he began to talk roughly to the people. Then
they fell upon him and thrashed him soundly, and drove him right away.
And he wandered all by himself through the forest till it was night.
Then he laid him down beneath a tree, and so he passed the night, and
rising up very early, fared on his way straight before him.

At last he came to a third brick-kiln, but he did not tell the
brick-burners there that he was the Tsar. All he thought of now was
how he might reach his capital. The people here, too, treated him
kindly, and seeing that his feet were lame and bruised, they had
compassion upon him, and gave him a pair of very, very old boots. And
he asked them, "Do ye know by which way I can get to the capital?"
They told him, but it was a long, long journey that would take the
whole day.

So he went the way they had told him, and he went on and on till he
came to a little town, and there the roadside sentries stopped him.
"Halt!" they cried. He halted. "Your passport!"[20]--"I have
none."--"What! no passport? Then thou art a vagabond. Seize him!" they
cried. So they seized him and put him in a dungeon. Shortly after they
came to examine him, and asked him, "Whence art thou?"--"From such and
such a capital," said he. Then they ordered him to be put in irons and
taken thither.

  [20] This is a good instance of the modern intrusions in these ancient
       _kazki_. An angel and a passport in the same tale!

So they took him back to that capital and put him in another dungeon.
Then the custodians came round to examine the prisoners, and one said
one thing and one said another, till at last it came to the turn of
the Tsar.--"Who art thou, old man?" they asked. Then he told them the
whole truth. "Once I was the Tsar," said he, and he related all that
had befallen him. Then they were much amazed, for he was not at all
like a Tsar. For indeed he had been growing thin and haggard for a
long time, and his beard was all long and tangled. And yet, for all
that, he stood them out that he was the Tsar. So they made up their
minds that he was crazy, and drove him away. "Why should we keep this
fool for ever," said they, "and waste the Tsar's bread upon him?" So
they let him go, and never did any man feel so wretched on God's earth
as did that wretched Tsar. Willingly would he have done any sort of
work if he had only known how, but he had never been used to work, so
he had to go along begging his bread, and could scarce beg enough to
keep body and soul together. He lay at night at the first place that
came to hand, sometimes in the tall grass of the steppes, sometimes
beneath a fence. "That it should ever have come to this!" he sighed.

But the angel who had made himself Tsar went home with the huntsmen.
And no man knew that he was not a Tsar, but an angel. The same evening
that priest came to him and said, "Do thy will, O Tsar, and strike off
my head, for I cannot blot out one word of Holy Scripture."--And the
Tsar said to him, "Glory be to God, for now I know that there is at
least one priest in my tsardom who stands firm for God's Word. I'll
make thee the highest bishop in this realm." The priest thanked him,
bowed down to the earth, and departed marvelling. "What is this
wonder?" thought he, "that the haughty Tsar should have become so just
and gentle."--But all men marvelled at the change that had come over
the Tsar. He was now so mild and gracious, nor did he spend all his
days in the forest, but went about inquiring of his people if any
were wronged or injured by their neighbours, and if justice were done.
He took count of all, and rebuked the unjust judges, and saw that
every man had his rights. And the people now rejoiced as much as they
had grieved heretofore, and justice was done in all the tribunals, and
no bribes were taken.


But the Tsar, the real Tsar, grew more and more wretched. Then, after
three years, a ukase went forth that on such and such a day all the
people were to come together to a great banquet given by the Tsar, all
were to be there, both rich and poor, both high and lowly. And all the
people came, and the unhappy Tsar came too. And so many long tables
were set out in the Tsar's courtyard that all the people praised God
when they saw the glad sight. And they all sat down at table and ate
and drank, and the Tsar himself and his courtiers distributed the meat
and drink to the guests as much as they would, but to the unfortunate
Tsar they gave a double portion of everything. And they all ate and
drank their fill, and then the Tsar began to inquire of the people
whether any had suffered wrong or had not had justice done him. And
when the people began to disperse, the Tsar stood at the gate with a
bag of money, and gave to every one a _grivna_,[21] but to the unhappy
Tsar he gave three.

  [21] About twopence-halfpenny.

And after three years the Tsar gave another banquet, and again
entertained all the people. And when he had given them both to eat and
to drink as much as they would, he inquired of them what was being
done in his tsardom, and again gave a _grivna_ to each one of them;
but to the unlucky Tsar he gave a double portion of meat and drink and
three _grivni_.

And again, after three years, he made yet another banquet, and
proclaimed that all should come, both rich and poor, both earls and
churls. And all the people came and ate and drank and bowed low before
the Tsar and thanked him, and made ready to depart. The unlucky Tsar
was also on the point of going, when the angel Tsar stopped him, and
took him aside into the palace, and said to him, "Lo! God hath tried
thee and chastised thy pride these ten years. But me He sent to teach
thee that a Tsar must have regard to the complaints of his people. So
thou wast made poor and a vagabond on the face of the earth that thou
mightst pick up wisdom, if but a little. Look now, that thou doest
good to thy people, and judgest righteous judgment, as from henceforth
thou shalt be Tsar again, but I must fly back to God in heaven."--And
when he had said this he bade them wash and shave him (for his beard
had grown right down to his girdle), and put upon him the raiment of a
Tsar. And the angel said further, "Go now into the inner apartments.
There the courtiers of the Tsar are sitting and making merry, and none
will recognize in thee the vagabond old man. May God help thee always
to do good!" And when the angel had said this he was no more to be
seen, and only his clothes remained on the floor.

Then the Tsar prayed gratefully to God, and went to the merry-making
of his courtiers, and henceforth he ruled his people justly, as the
angel had bidden him.


There were once upon a time four brethren, and three of them remained
at home, while the fourth went out to seek for work. This youngest
brother came to a strange land, and hired himself out to a husbandman
for three gold pieces a year. For three years he served his master
faithfully, so, at the end of his time, he departed with nine gold
pieces in his pocket. The first thing he now did was to go to a
spring, and into this spring he threw three of his gold pieces. "Let
us see now," said he, "if I have been honest, they will come swimming
back to me." Then he lay down by the side of the spring and went fast
asleep. How long he slept there, who can tell? but at any rate he woke
up at last and went to the spring, but there was no sign of his money
to be seen. Then he threw three more of the gold pieces into the
spring, and again he lay down by the side of it and slept. Then he got
up and went and looked into the spring, and still there was no sign of
the money. So he threw in his three remaining gold pieces, and again
lay down and slept. The third time he arose and looked into the
spring, and there, sure enough, was his money: all nine of the gold
pieces were floating on the surface of the water!

And now his heart felt lighter, and he gathered up the nine gold
pieces and went on his way. On the road he fell in with three
_katsapi_[22] with a laden wagon. He asked them concerning their
wares, and they said they were carrying a load of incense. He begged
them straightway to sell him this incense. Then they sold it to him
for the gold pieces, and when he had bought it and they had
departed, he kindled fire and burnt the incense, and offered it up
to God as a sweet-smelling sacrifice. Then an angel flew down to
him, and said, "Oh, thou that hast offered this sweet-smelling
sacrifice to God, what dost thou want for thine own self? Dost thou
want a tsardom, or great riches? Or, perchance, the desire of thy
heart is a good wife? Speak, for God will give thee whatsoever thou
desirest." When the man had listened to the angel, he said to him,
"Tarry a while! I will go and ask those people who are ploughing
yonder." Now those people who were ploughing there were his own
brethren, but he did not know that they were his brethren. So he went
up and said to the elder brother, "Tell me, uncle, what shall I ask
of God? A tsardom, or great riches, or a good wife? Tell me, which of
the three is the best gift to ask for?"--And his eldest brother
said to him, "I know not, and who does know? Go and ask some one
else." So he went to the second brother, who was ploughing a little
farther on. He asked him the same question, but the man only
shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't know either. Then he went to
the third brother, who was the youngest of the three, and also
ploughing there. And he asked him, saying, "Tell me, now, which is
the best gift to ask of God: a tsardom, or great riches, or a good
wife?"--And the third brother said, "What a question! Thou art too
young for a tsardom, and great riches last but for a little while;
ask God for a good wife, for if it please God to give thee a good
wife, 'tis a gift that will bless thee all thy life long." So he went
back to the angel and asked for a good wife. Then he went on his way
till he came to a certain wood, and, looking about him, he perceived
that in this wood was a lake. And while he was looking at it,
three wild doves came flying along and lit down upon this lake. They
threw off their plumage and plunged into the water, and then he saw
that they were not wild doves, but three fair ladies. They bathed in
the lake, and in the meantime the youth crept up and took the raiment
of one of them and hid it behind the bushes. When they came out of
the water the third lady missed her clothes. Then the youth said to
her, "I know where thy clothes are, but I will not give them to thee
unless thou wilt be my wife."--"Good!" cried she, "thy wife will I
be." Then she dressed herself, and they went together to the
nearest village. When they got there, she said to him, "Now go to
the nobleman who owns the land here, and beg him for a place where
we may build us a hut." So he went right up to the nobleman's castle
and entered his reception-room, and said, "Glory be to God!"--"For
ever and ever!" replied the nobleman. "What dost thou want here,
Ivan?"--"I have come, sir, to beg of thee a place where I may build me
a hut."--"A place for a hut, eh? Good, very good. Go home, and
I'll speak to my overseer, and he shall appoint thee a place."--So
he returned from the nobleman's castle, and his wife said to him, "Go
now into the forest and cut down an oak, a young oak, that thou
canst span round with both arms." So he cut down such an oak as his
wife had told him of, and she built a hut of the oak, for the overseer
had come and shown them a place where they might build their hut. But
when the overseer returned home he praised loudly to his master the
wife of this Ivan. "She is such and such," said he. "Fair she may
be," replied the nobleman, "but she is another's."--"She need not be
another's for long," replied the overseer. "This Ivan is in our
hands; let us send him to see why it is the sun grows so red when he
sets."--"That's just the same as if you sent him to a place whence he
can never return."--"All the better."--Then they sent for Ivan, and
gave him this errand, and he returned home to his wife, weeping
bitterly. Then his wife asked him all about it, and said, "Well, I
can tell thee all about the ways of the sun, for I am the sun's
own daughter. So now I'll tell thee the whole matter. Go back to this
nobleman and say to him that the reason why the sun turns so red as
he sets is this: Just as the sun is going down into the sea, three
fair ladies rise out of it, and it is the sight of them which makes
him turn so red all over!" So he went back and told them. "Oh-ho!"
cried they, "if you can go as far as that, you may now go a little
farther"; so they told him to go to hell and see how it was there.
"Yes," said his wife, "I know the road that leads to hell also very
well; but the nobleman must let his overseer go with thee, or else
he never will believe that thou really didst go to hell."--So the
nobleman told his overseer that he must go to hell too, so they
went together; and when they got there the rulers of hell laid
hands upon the overseer straightway. "Thou dog!" roared they,
"we've been looking out for thee for some time!" So Ivan returned
without the overseer, and the nobleman said to him, "Where's my
overseer?"--"I left him in hell," said Ivan, "and they said there that
they were waiting for you, sir, too." When the nobleman heard this
he hanged himself, but Ivan lived happily with his wife.

  [22] _Lit._ Big billy-goats, the name given by the clean-shaved
       Ruthenians to their hairy neighbours the Russians.



There was once upon a time a cat and a cock, who agreed to live
together, so they built them a hut on an ash-heap, and the cock kept
house while the cat went foraging for sausages.

One day the fox came running up: "Open the door, little cock!" cried
she.--"Pussy told me not to, little fox!" said the cock.--"Open the
door, little cock!" repeated the fox.--"I tell you, pussy told me not
to, little fox!"--At last, however, the cock grew tired of always
saying "No!" so he opened the door, and in the fox rushed, seized him
in her jaws, and ran off with him. Then the cock cried:

  "_Help! pussy-pussy!
  That foxy hussy
  Has got me tight
  With all her might.
  Across her tail
  My legs do trail
  Along the bridge so stony!_"

The cat heard it, gave chase to the fox, rescued the cock, brought him
home, scolded him well, and said, "Now keep out of her jaws in the
future, if you don't want to be killed altogether!"

Then the cat went out foraging for wheat, so that the cock might
have something to eat. He had scarcely gone when the sly she-fox
again came creeping up. "Dear little cock!" said she, "pray open
the door!"--"Nay, little fox! Pussy said I wasn't to." But the fox
went on asking and asking till at last the cock let him in. Then
the fox rushed at him, seized him by the neck, and ran off with
him. Then the cock cried out:

  "_Help! pussy-pussy!
  That foxy hussy
  Has got me tight
  With all her might.
  Across her tail
  My legs do trail
  Along the bridge so stony!_"

The cat heard it, and again he ran after the fox and rescued the cock,
and gave the fox a sound drubbing. Then he said to the cock, "Now,
mind you never let her come in again, or she'll eat you."

But the next time the cat went out, the she-fox came again, and said,
"Dear little cock, open the door!"--"No, little fox! Pussy said I
wasn't to." But the fox begged and begged so piteously that, at last,
the cock was quite touched, and opened the door. Then the fox caught
him by the throat again, and ran away with him, and the cock cried:

  "_Help! pussy-pussy!
  That foxy hussy
  Has got me tight
  With all her might.
  Across her tail
  My legs do trail
  Along the bridge so stony!_"

The cat heard it, and gave chase again. He ran and ran, but this time
he couldn't catch the fox up; so he returned home and wept bitterly,
because he was now all alone. At last, however, he dried his tears and
got him a little fiddle, a little fiddle-bow, and a big sack, and went
to the fox's hole and began to play:

  The foxy so wee
  Had daughters twice two,
  And a little son too,
  Called Phil.--Fiddle-dee!
  Come, foxy, and see
  My sweet minstrelsy!_"

Then the fox's daughter said, "Mammy, I'll go out and see who it is
that is playing so nicely!" So out she skipped, but no sooner did
pussy see her than he caught hold of her and popped her into his sack.
Then he played again:

  The foxy so wee
  Had daughters twice two,
  And a little son too,
  Called Phil.--Fiddle-dee!
  Come, foxy, and see
  My sweet minstrelsy!_"

Then the second daughter skipped out, and pussy caught her by the
forehead, and popped her into his sack, and went on playing and
singing till he had got all four daughters into his sack, and the
little son also.

Then the old fox was left all alone, and she waited and waited, but
not one of them came back. At last she said to herself, "I'll go out
and call them home, for the cock is roasting, and the milk pottage is
simmering, and 'tis high time we had something to eat." So out she
popped, and the cat pounced upon her, and killed her too. Then he went
and drank up all the soup, and gobbled up all the pottage, and then he
saw the cock lying on a plate. "Come, shake yourself, cock!" said
puss. So the cock shook himself, and got up, and the cat took the cock
home, and the dead foxes too. And when they got home they skinned them
to make nice beds to lie upon, and lived happily together in peace and
plenty. And as they laughed over the joke as a good joke, we may laugh
over it too!


There was once a Tsaritsa who had no child, and greatly desired one,
so the soothsayers said to her, "Bid them catch thee a pike, bid them
boil its head and nothing but its head, eat it, and thou shalt see
what will happen." So she did so. She ate the pike's head and went
about as usual for a whole year, and when the year was out she gave
birth to a son who was a serpent.

And no sooner was he born than he looked about him, and said, "Mammy
and daddy! Bid them make me a stone hut, and let there be a little bed
there, and a little stove and a fire to warm me, and let me be married
in a fortnight!"--So they did as he desired. They shut him up in a
stone hut, with a little bed and a little stove and fire to warm him,
and in a fortnight he grew quite big, indeed he grew too big for his
little bed. "And now," said he, "I want to be married!" So they
brought to him all the fair young damsels of the land that he might
choose one to be his own true bride. Exceeding fair were all the
damsels they brought him, and yet he would choose none of them. Now
there was an old woman there, who had twelve daughters, and eleven of
these daughters they brought to the Serpent-Tsarevich, but not the
twelfth. "She is too young!" said they.--Then the youngest daughter
said, "Ye fools, not to take me too! Why, if I were brought to the
Serpent-Tsarevich, he would make me his bride at once."

Now this came to the Tsar's ears, and he commanded them to bring her
to him straightway. And the Tsar said to her, "Wilt thou be my son's
bride or not?"--And she said, "I will; but before I go to thy son,
give me at once a score of chemises, and a score of linen kirtles, and
a score of woollen kirtles, and twenty pairs of shoes--twenty of each,
I say."--So the Tsar gave them to her, and she put on the twenty
chemises, the twenty linen kirtles, the twenty woollen kirtles, and
the twenty pairs of shoes, one after the other, and went to see the
Serpent-Tsarevich. When she came to the threshold of his hut, she
stopped and said, "Hail, O Serpent-Tsarevich!"--"Hail, maiden!" cried
he. "Wilt thou be my bride?"--"I will!"--"Then take off one of thy
skins!" cried he.--"Yes," she said, "but thou must do the same."--So
he cast off one of his skins, and she cast off one of her twenty suits
of clothes. Then he cried out again, "Cast off another of thy skins,
maiden."--"Yes," she replied, "but thou must cast off one too!"--So he
did so. Nineteen times did he cast off one of his serpent's skins, and
nineteen times did she cast off one of her suits of clothes, till at
last she had only her every-day suit left, and he had only his human
skin left. Then he threw off his last skin also, and it flew about in
the air like a gossamer, whereupon she seized hold of it and threw it
into the fire that was burning on the hearth till it was all consumed,
and he stood before her no longer a serpent, but a simple Tsarevich.
Then they married and lived happily together, but the husband never
would go to visit his old father the Tsar, nor would he allow his
bride to go near the palace.


The old Tsar sent for him again and again, but his son would never go.
At last the wife was ashamed, and said to her husband one day, "Dear
heart! let me go to thy father! I will only go for my own pastime,
lest he get angry. Why should I not go?" Then he let her go, and she
went to the court of the old Tsar, and took her pastime there. She
amused herself finely, and ate and drank her fill of all good things.
Now her husband had laid this command upon her, "Go and divert thyself
if thou wilt, but if thou tell my father and my mother what has
happened to me, and how I have lost my twenty serpent skins, thou
shalt never see me more." For they did not know that he was now no
longer a serpent, but a simple Tsarevich. She vowed she would never
tell; but for all her promises, she nevertheless told them at last how
her husband had lost his twenty serpent skins. Then she enjoyed
herself to her heart's content, but when she returned home she found
no trace of her husband--he had departed to another kingdom in the
uttermost parts of the world.

Then the poor bride sat her down and wept and wept, and when she had
no more tears to weep, she went forth into the wide world to seek her
husband. She went on till she came to a lonely little house, and she
went and begged a night's lodging from the old woman who dwelt there,
who was the Mother of the Winds. But the Mother of the Winds would not
let her in. "God preserve thee, child!" said she. "My son is already
winging his way hither. In another moment thou wilt hear the rustling
of his wings, in another moment he will slay thee, and scatter thy
bones to the four winds." But the bride besought the old woman till
she had her desire, and the old woman hid her behind a huge chest. A
moment afterward the son of the Mother of the Winds came flying up,
and he smelt out the bride, and said, "What's this, mother? There is
an evil smell of Cossack bones about the house!"--"No, it is not
that," said his mother, "but a young woman has taken shelter here, who
says that she is going in search of her husband."--"Then, mother, give
her the little silver apple, and let her go, for her husband is in
another kingdom." So they sent her away with the little silver apple.

She went on and on till night descended upon her, and she came to the
lonely abode of another old woman, and begged a night's lodging of her
also. But the old woman would not let her in. "My son will be here
presently," said she, "and he will slay thee."--"Nay, but, granny,"
said the bride, "I've already stayed the night with such as thou, for
I have lodged at the house of the Mother of the Winds."--Then the old
woman took her in, and hid her, for she was the Mother of the Moon.
And immediately afterward the Moon came flying up. "What is this,
little mother?" cried he. "I smell an evil smell of Cossack
bones!"--But she said to him, "Nay, my dear little son, but a young
woman has come hither who is obliged to search for her husband because
she told his father and mother the truth." Then the Moon said,
"'Twould be as well to let her go on farther. Give her the little
golden apple, and let her be off as quickly as possible, for her
husband is about to marry another wife." So she passed the night
there, and in the morning they sent her away with the little golden

She went on and on. Night again descended upon her, and she came to
the house of the Mother of the Sun, and begged her for a night's
lodging. But the old woman said to her, "I cannot let thee in. My son
is flying about the world, but he will fly hither presently, and if he
find thee here he will slay thee!"--Then the bride said, "Nay, but,
granny dear, I have already lodged with the like of thee. I have
lodged with the Mother of the Winds, and the Mother of the Moon, and
they each gave me a little apple." Then the Mother of the Sun also let
her in. Immediately afterward her son, the Sun, came flying up, and he
said, "Why, what is this, little mother? I smell an evil smell of
Cossack bones!"--But his mother answered, "A young woman came hither
who begged for a night's lodging." She did not tell her son the whole
truth, that the bride was in search of her husband, but he knew it
already, and said, "Her husband is about to marry another wife. Let
her go to the land where now he is, and give her the diamond apple,
which is the best and most precious apple in the whole world, and tell
her to hasten on to the house where her husband abides. They won't let
her in there, but she must disguise herself as an old woman, and sit
down outside in the courtyard, and spread out a cloth and lay upon it
her little silver apple, and all the people will come flocking around
to see the old woman who is selling apples of silver." So the bride
did as the Sun bade her, and went to that distant empire, and the
Empress of that empire, whom her husband had married, came to see what
she was selling, and said to her, "What dost thou want for thy silver
apple?" And she answered, "No money do I want for it. Oh, sovereign
lady, all that I require in exchange therefor is that I may pass the
night near my husband."--Then the Empress took the apple, and allowed
her to come into the bedchamber of the Tsarevich to pass the night
there; but first of all she gave the Tsarevich a sleeping draught so
that he knew nothing, and could speak not a word to her, nor could he
even recognize what manner of person his true wife was. Then only did
the Empress let her come into the room where her husband lay. And she
watched over him, she watched over him the live-long night, and with
the dawn she departed.

The next morning he awoke out of his drugged sleep, and said to
himself, "Why, what is this? It is just as if my first wife has been
weeping over me here, and wetted me with her tears!" But he told
nobody what he thought, nor did he say a word about it to his second
wife. "Wait a bit!" thought he, "to-morrow night I'll not go to sleep.
I'll watch and watch till I watch the thing out."

The next day the faithful wife spread out her little cloth again, and
laid upon it her golden apple. The Empress again came that way, went
up to her, and said, "Sell me that apple of thine, and I'll give thee
for it as many pence as thou canst hold in thy lap!"--But she replied,
"Nay, my sovereign lady! money for it I will not take, but let me pass
one more night in my own husband's room!"--And the Empress took the
apple, and let her go there. But first the Empress caressed and kissed
her husband into a good humour, and then she gave him another sleeping
draught. And the faithful wife came again, and watched and wept over
him and wetted him with her tears, and with the dawn she departed.

And now she had only one apple left, but that was the diamond apple,
the most precious apple in the world. And she said to the Empress,
"Let me watch by him for this apple but one night more, and I'll never
ask again!" And she let her. Now this night also her husband was
asleep. And his first wife came and immediately began to kiss him on
the head, but he said nothing. Then she kissed him again, and at last
he awoke and started up, and said, "Who's that?"--"It is I, thy first
wife."--"How hast thou found thy way hither?"--"Oh, I have been here
and there and everywhere. I have lodged with the Mother of the Winds,
and the Mother of the Moon, and the Mother of the Sun, and they gave
me three apples, and I gave these apples to thy Empress-wife, and she
let me watch over thee, and this is the third night that I have
watched by thy side."

Then he came to his right mind, and cried aloud that they should bring
in lights, and he saw that his faithful wife was quite an old woman.
Then he bethought him, and said, "Was ever the like of this known? My
first and faithful wife goes a-seeking her husband throughout the wide
world, while my accursed second wife, Empress though she be, sells her
husband for three apples!"

Then he bade them give his faithful wife rich garments as much as she
would, and she stripped off her disguise, and washed her face and grew
young again. But the faithless wife was tied to the tails of four wild
horses, and they tore her to pieces in the endless steppe.


Once upon a time a rich man and a poor man had a field in common, and
they sowed it with the same seed at the same time. But God prospered
the poor man's labour and made his seed to grow, but the rich man's
seed did not grow. Then the rich man claimed that part of the field
where the grain had sprung up, and said to the poor man, "Look now!
'tis my seed that has prospered, and not thine!" The poor man
protested, but the rich man would not listen, but said to him, "If
thou wilt not believe me, then, poor man, come into the field quite
early to-morrow morning, before dawn, and God shall judge betwixt

Then the poor man went home. But the rich man dug a deep trench in the
poor man's part of the field and placed his son in it, and said to
him, "Look now, my son; when I come hither to-morrow morning and ask
whose field this is, say that it is not the poor man's, but the rich

Then he well covered up his son with straw, and departed to his own

In the morning all the people assembled together and went to the
field, and the rich man cried, "Speak, O God! whose field is this, the
rich man's or the poor man's?"

"The rich man's, the rich man's," cried a voice from the midst of the

But the Lord Himself was among the people gathered together there, and
He said, "Listen not to that voice, for the field is verily the poor

Then the Lord told all the people how the matter went, and then He
said to the son of the rich man,

"Stay where thou art, and sit beneath the earth all thy days, so long
as the sun is in the sky."

So the rich man's son became a mole on the spot, and that is why the
mole always flies the light of day.


There was once upon a time a King who had two sons, and these sons
went a-hunting in the forest and there lost themselves. They wandered
on and on for twelve weeks, and at the end of the twelve weeks they
came to a place where three roads met, and the elder brother said to
the younger, "My brother, here our roads part. Take thou the road on
that side, and I'll take the road on this." Then the elder brother
took a knife and stuck it into the trunk of a maple-tree by the
roadside, and said, "Look now, brother, should any blood drip from the
blade of this knife it will be a sign that I am perishing, and thou
must go and seek me; but if any blood flow from the handle, it will be
a sign that _thou_ art perishing, and I will then go and seek thee."
Then the brothers embraced each other and parted, and one went in one
direction and the other went in the other.

The elder brother went on and on and on till he came to a mountain so
high that there cannot be a higher, and he began climbing it with his
dog and his stick. He went on till he came to an apple-tree, and
beneath the apple-tree a fire was burning, and he stopped to warm
himself, when an old woman came up and said to him, "Dear little
gentleman! dear little gentleman! tie up that dog lest he bite me." So
he took the dog and tied it up, and immediately he was turned to
stone, and the dog too, for the old woman was a pagan witch.

Time passed, and the younger brother came back to the maple-tree by
the cross-roads and saw that blood was dripping from the blade of the
knife. Then he knew that his brother was perishing, and he went in
search of him, and came at last to the high mountain that was higher
than all others, and on the top of this mountain there was a little
courtyard, and in the courtyard an old woman, who said to him, "Little
Prince, what brings thee hither, and what dost thou seek?"--"I seek my
brother," said he; "a whole year has passed since I heard of him, and
I know not whether he be alive or dead."--Then she said to him, "I can
tell thee that he is dead, and it is of no use seeking for him, though
thou goest the wide world over. But go up that mountain, and thou wilt
come to two other mountains opposite to each other, and there thou
wilt find an old man, who will put thee on thy way." So he went up the
high mountain till he came to two other mountains that were opposite
each other, and there he saw two old men sitting, and they asked him
straightway, "Little Prince! little Prince! whither dost thou go, and
what dost thou seek?"--"I am going in search of my brother," said he,
"my dear elder brother who is perishing, and I can find him
nowhere."--Then one of the old men said to him, "If thou canst scale
those two mountains yonder without falling, I'll give thee all that
thou dost want." Then he scaled the two mountains as nimbly as a goat,
and the old man gave him a bast rope, three fathoms long, and bade him
return to the mountain where was the fire and the old woman who had
asked him to stay and warm himself, and bind this old woman with the
cord and beat her till she promised to bring his brother back to life
again, and not only his brother but a Tsar and a Tsaritsa[23] and a
Tsarivna, who were also turned to stone there. "Beat her till she has
brought them all to life again," said they. So he took the cord and
went back to where the fire was burning. An apple-tree was there, and
beneath the apple-tree was the fire, and the old witch came out to him
and said, "Little master! little master! let me come and warm
myself."--"Come along, little mother!" cried he; "come and warm
thyself and make thyself comfortable." Then she came out, but no
sooner had she done so, than he threw the cord around her and began
flogging her. "Say," cried he, "what hast thou done with my
brother?"--"Oh, dear little master! dear little master! let me go, let
me go! I'll tell thee this instant where thy brother is." But he
wouldn't listen, but beat her and beat her, and held her naked feet
over the fire, and toasted and roasted her till she shrivelled right
up. Then he let her go, and she went with him to a cave that was on
that mountain, and drew from the depths of it some healing and
life-giving water, and brought his brother back to life again, but it
was as much as she could do, for she was half dead herself. Then his
brother said to him, "Oh, my dear brother, how heavily I must have
been sleeping! But thou must revive my faithful dog too!" Then she
revived the faithful dog, and she also revived the Tsar and the
Tsaritsa and the Tsarivna, who had been turned to stone there. Then
they left that place and when they had gone a little distance, the
elder brother bowed to the ground and went on his way alone.

  [23] The wife of a Tsar.

He went on and on till he came to a city where all the people were
weeping and all the houses were hung with black cloth. And he said to
them, "Why do ye weep, and why are all your houses hung with
black?"--And they answered, "Because there's a Dragon here who eats
the people, and it has come to such a pass with us that to-morrow we
must give him our Princess for dinner."--"Nay, but ye shall not do
this thing," said he, and, with that, he set out for the cavern where
the Dragon lived, and tethered his horse there and slept by the side
of the cavern all night. And the next day, sure enough, the Princess
was brought to the mouth of the cavern. She came driving thither in a
carriage and four and with a heyduck[24] in attendance. But when the
Prince saw her, he came forth to meet her and led her aside and gave
her a prayer-book in her hand, and said to her, "Stay here, Princess,
and pray to God for me." Then she fell down on her knees and began to
pray, and the Dragon popped one of his heads out of the cavern and
said, "It is time I had my dinner now, and there's not so much as a
breakfast here!" But the Prince also fell down on his knees and read
out of his prayer-book and prayed to God, and said to the Dragon,
"Come forth! come forth! and I'll give thee breakfast and dinner at
the same time!" Then the Dragon darted back again, but when he had
waited till midday and still there was neither breakfast nor dinner
for him, he popped two of his heads out and cried, "It is high time I
had my dinner, and still there is neither breakfast nor dinner for
me!"--"Come forth, and I'll give thee both at once!" cried the
Prince. Then the Dragon wouldn't wait any longer, but stuck out all
his six heads and began to wriggle out of the cavern; but the Prince
attacked him with his huge broadsword, a full fathom long, which the
Lord had given him, and chopped off all the Dragon's six heads, and
the rock fell upon the Dragon's body and crushed it to pieces. Then
the Prince gathered up the six dragon-heads and laid them on one side,
and cut out the six lolling tongues and tied them in his handkerchief,
and told the Princess to go back to her palace, for they could not be
married for a year and twelve weeks, and if by that time he did not
appear, she was to marry another, and with that he departed. Then the
coachman of the Princess came up to the place and saw the six heads of
the Dragon, and took them up and said to the Princess, "I will slay
thee on the spot if thou dost not swear to me twelve times that thou
wilt say I slew the Dragon, and wilt take me for thy husband!" Then
she swore to it twelve times, for else he would have slain her. So
they returned together to the town, and immediately all the black
cloth was taken off the houses and the bells fell a-ringing, and all
the people rejoiced because the coachman had killed the Dragon. "Let
them be married at once!" cried they.

  [24] Hungarian soldier.

Meanwhile the King's son went on and on till he came to that town
where he had left his brother, and there he found that the Tsar and
the Tsaritsa had given his brother the whole tsardom and the Tsarivna
to wife as well, and there he tarried for a time; but toward the end
of a year and twelve weeks he went back to the other city where he had
left the Princess, and there he found them making ready for a grand
wedding. "What is the meaning of all this?" asked he. And they
answered, "The Tsar's coachman has slain the Dragon with six heads and
saved the Princess, and now he is to be married to her."--"Good Lord!"
cried he, "and I never saw this Dragon! What manner of beast was
it?"--Then they took him and showed him the heads of the Dragon, and
he cried, "Good Lord! every other beast hath a tongue, but this Dragon
hath none!" Then they told this to the coachman, who had been made a
Prince, and the coachman was very angry and said, "Whoever maintains
that a Dragon has tongues, him will I order to be tied to four wild
horses, and they shall tear him to pieces on the open steppe!" The
Princess, however, recognized the King's son, but she held her peace.
Then the King's son took out his handkerchief, unrolled it, showed
them the six tongues, and put each one into one of the six mouths of
the Dragon's six heads, and each of the tongues began to speak and bid
the Princess say how the matter went. Then the Princess told how she
had knelt down and prayed out of the prayer-book while the King's son
slew the Dragon, and how the wicked coachman had made her swear twelve
times to that which was false. When the Tsar heard this, he
immediately gave the Princess his daughter to the King's son, and they
asked him what death the wicked coachman should die. And he answered,
"Let him be tied to the tails of four wild horses, and drive them into
the endless steppe that they may tear him to pieces there, and the
ravens and crows may come and pick his bones."


Once upon a time there was an old man. He lived to a great age, and
God gave him children whom he brought up to man's estate, and he
divided all his goods amongst them. "I will pass my remaining days
among my children," thought he.

So the old man went to live with his eldest son, and at first the
eldest son treated him properly, and did reverence to his old
father. "'Tis but meet and right that we should give our father to
eat and drink, and see that he has wherewithal to clothe him, and take
care to patch up his things from time to time, and let him have
clean new shirts on festivals," said the eldest son. So they did so,
and at festivals also the old father had his own glass beside him.
Thus the eldest son was a good son to his old father. But when the
eldest son had been keeping his father for some time he began to
regret his hospitality, and was rough to his father, and sometimes
even shouted at him. The old man no longer had his own set place
in the house as heretofore, and there was none to cut up his food
for him. So the eldest son repented him that he had said he would
keep his father, and he began to grudge him every morsel of bread
that he put in his mouth. The old man had nothing for it but to go to
his second son. It might be better for him there or worse, but stay
with his eldest son any longer he could not. So the father went to
his second son. But here the old man soon discovered that he had only
exchanged wheat for straw. Whenever he began to eat, his second son
and his daughter-in-law looked sour and murmured something between
their teeth. The woman scolded the old man. "We had as much as we
could do before to make both ends meet," cried she, "and now we
have old men to keep into the bargain." The old man soon had enough
of it there also, and went on to his next son. So one after
another all four sons took their father to live with them, and he was
glad to leave them all. Each of the four sons, one after the other,
cast the burden of supporting him on one of the other brothers. "It is
for him to keep thee, daddy!" said they; and then the other would
say, "Nay, dad, but it is as much as we can do to keep ourselves."
Thus between his four sons he knew not what to do. There was quite
a battle among them as to which of them should _not_ keep their old
father. One had one good excuse and another had another, and so none
of them would keep him. This one had a lot of little children, and
that one had a scold for a wife, and this house was too small, and
that house was too poor. "Go where thou wilt, old man," said they,
"only don't come to us." And the old man, grey, grey, grey as a
dove was he, wept before his sons, and knew not whither to turn.
What could he do? Entreaty was in vain. Not one of the sons would take
the old man in, and yet he had to be put somewhere. Then the old
man strove with them no more, but let them do with him even as
they would.

So all four sons met and took counsel. Time after time they laid their
heads together, and at last they agreed among themselves that the
best thing the old man could do was to go to school. "There will be a
bench for him to sit upon there," said they; "and he can take
something to eat in his knapsack." Then they told the old man about
it; but the old man did not want to go to school. He begged his
children not to send him there, and wept before them. "Now that I
cannot see the white world," said he, "how can I see a black book?
Moreover, from my youth upward I have never learnt my letters; how
shall I begin to do so now? A clerk cannot be fashioned out of an old
man on the point of death!" But there was no use talking, his children
said he _must_ go to school, and the voices of his children prevailed
against his feeble old voice. So to school he had to go. Now there was
no church in that village, so he had to go to the village beyond it to
school. A forest lay along the road, and in this forest the old man
met a nobleman driving along. When the old man came near to the
nobleman's carriage, he stepped out of the road to let it pass, took
off his hat respectfully, and then would have gone on farther. But he
heard some one calling, and, looking back, saw the nobleman beckoning
to him; he wanted to ask him something. The nobleman then got out of
his carriage and asked the old man whither he was going. The old man
took off his hat to the nobleman and told him all his misery, and the
tears ran down the old man's cheeks. "Woe is me, gracious sir! If the
Lord had left me without kith and kin, I should not complain; but
strange indeed is the woe that has befallen me! I have four sons,
thank God, and all four have houses of their own, and yet they send
their poor old father to school to learn! Was ever the like of it
known before?" So the old man told the nobleman his whole story, and
the nobleman was full of compassion for the old man. "Well, old man,"
said he, "'tis no use for thee to go to school, that's plain. Return
home. I'll tell thee what to do so that thy children shall never send
thee to school again. Fear not, old man, weep no more, and let not thy
soul be troubled! God shall bless thee, and all will be well. I know
well what ought to be done here." So the nobleman comforted the old
man, and the old man began to be merry. Then the nobleman took out his
purse, it was a real nobleman's purse, with a little sack in the
middle of it to hold small change. Lord! what a lovely thing it was!
The more he looked at it, the more the old man marvelled at it. The
nobleman took this purse and began filling it full with something.
When he had well filled it, he gave it to the old man. "Take this and
go home to thy children," said he, "and when thou hast got home, call
together all thy four sons and say to them, 'My dear children, long
long ago, when I was younger than I am now, and knocked about in the
world a bit, I made a little money. "I won't spend it," I said to
myself, "for one never knows what may happen." So I went into a
forest, my children, and dug a hole beneath an oak, and there I hid my
little store of money. I did not bother much about the money
afterward, because I had such good children; but when you sent me to
school I came to this self-same oak, and I said to myself, "I wonder
if these few silver pieces have been waiting for their master all
this time! Let us dig and see." So I dug and found them, and have
brought them home to you, my children. I shall keep them till I die;
but after my death consult together, and whosoever shall be found to
have cherished me most and taken care of me and not grudged me a clean
shirt now and then, or a crust of bread when I'm hungry, to him shall
be given the greater part of my money. So now, my dear children,
receive me back again, and my thanks shall be yours. You can manage it
amongst you, and surely 'tis not right that I should seek a home among
strangers! Which of you will be kind to your old father--for money?'"

So the old man returned to his children with the purse in a casket,
and when he came to the village with the casket under his arm, one
could see at once that he had been in a _good forest_.[25] When one
comes home with a heavy casket under one's arm, depend upon it there's
something in it! So, no sooner did the old man appear than his eldest
daughter-in-law came running out to meet him, and bade him welcome in
God's name. "Things don't seem to get on at all without thee, dad!"
cried she, "and the house is quite dreary. Come in and rest, dad," she
went on; "thou hast gone a long way and must be weary." Then all the
brothers came together, and the old man told them what God had done
for him. All their faces brightened as they looked at the casket, and
they thought to themselves, "If we keep him we shall have the money."
Then the four brothers could not make too much of their dear old
father. They took care of him and the old man was happy, but he took
heed to the counsel of the nobleman, and never let the casket out of
his hand. "After my death you shall have everything, but I won't give
it you now, for who knows what may happen? I have seen already how you
treated your old father when he had nothing. It shall all be yours, I
say, only wait; and when I die, take it and divide it as I have said."
So the brothers tended their father, and the old man lived in clover,
and was somebody. He had his own way and did nothing.

  [25] _I.e._ a forest where treasure is hidden.

So the old man was no longer ill-treated by his children, but lived
among them like an emperor in his own empire, but no sooner did he die
than his children made what haste they could to lay hands upon the
casket. All the people were called together and bore witness that they
had treated their father well since he came back to them, so it was
adjudged that they should divide the treasure amongst them. But first
they took the old man's body to church and the casket along with it.
They buried him as God commands. They made a rich banquet of funeral
meats that all might know how much they mourned the old man; it was a
splendid funeral. When the priest got up from the table, the people
all began to thank their hosts, and the eldest son begged the priest
to say the _sorokoust_[26] in the church for the repose of the dead
man's soul. "Such a dear old fellow as he was!" said he; "was there
ever any one like him? Take this money for the _sorokoust_, reverend
father!" so horribly grieved was that eldest son. So the eldest son
gave the priest money, and the second son gave him the like. Nay,
each one gave him money for an extra half _sorokoust_, all four gave
him requiem money. "We'll have prayers in church for our father though
we sell our last sheep to pay for them," cried they. Then, when all
was over, they hastened as fast as they could to the money. The coffer
was brought forth. They shook it. There was a fine rattling inside it.
Every one of them felt and handled the coffer. That was something like
a treasure! Then they unsealed it and opened it and scattered the
contents--and it was full of nothing but glass! They wouldn't believe
their eyes. They rummaged among the glass, but there was no money. It
was horrible! Surely it could not be that their father had dug up a
coffer from beneath an oak of the forest and it was full of nothing
but glass! "Why!" cried the brothers, "our father has left us nothing
but glass!" But for the crowds of people there, the brothers would
have fallen upon and beaten each other in their wrath. So the children
of the old man saw that their father had made fools of them. Then all
the people mocked them: "You see what you have gained by sending your
father to school! You see he learned something at school after all! He
was a long time before he _began_ learning, but better late than
never. It appears to us 'twas a right good school you sent him to. No
doubt they whipped him into learning so much. Never mind, you can keep
the money and the casket!" Then the brothers were full of lamentation
and rage. But what could they do? Their father was already dead and

  [26] Prayers lasting forty days.


There was once upon a time a man who had three sons, and two were
clever, but the third, called Ivan, was a fool. Their father divided
all his goods among them and died, and the three brothers went out
into the world to seek their fortunes. Now the two wise brothers left
all their goods at home, but Ivan the fool, who had only inherited a
large millstone, took it along with him. They went on and on and on
till it began to grow dark, when they came to a large forest. Then the
wise brothers said, "Let us climb up to the top of this oak and pass
the night there, and then robbers will not fall upon us."--"But what
will this silly donkey do with his millstone?" asked one of
them.--"You look to yourselves," said Ivan, "for I mean to pass the
night in this tree also." Then the wise brothers climbed to the very
tip-top of the tree and there sat down, and then Ivan dragged himself
up too, and the millstone after him. He tried to get up as high as his
brothers, but the thin boughs broke beneath him, so he had to be
content with staying in the lower part of the tree on the thicker
boughs; so there he sat, hugging the millstone in his arms. Presently
some robbers came along that way, red-handed from their work, and they
too prepared to pass the night under the tree. So they cut them down
firewood, and made them a roaring fire beneath a huge cauldron, and in
this cauldron they began to boil their supper. They boiled and boiled
till their mess of pottage was ready, and then they all sat down round
the cauldron and took out their large ladles, and were just about to
fall to--in fact they were blowing their food because it was so
boiling hot--when Ivan let his big millstone plump down into the
middle of the cauldron, so that the pottage flew right into their
eyes. The robbers were so terrified that they all sprang to their feet
straightway and scampered off through the forest, forgetting all the
booty of which they had robbed the merchantmen. Then Ivan came down
from the oak and cried to his brothers, "You come down here and divide
the spoil!" So the wise brothers came down, put all the merchandise on
the backs of the robbers' horses, and went home with it; but the only
thing that Ivan was able to secure for himself was a bag of incense.
This he immediately took to the nearest churchyard, placed it on the
top of a tomb, and began to pound away at it with his millstone.
Suddenly St Peter appeared to him and said, "What art thou doing, good
man?"--"I am pounding up this incense to make bread of it."--"Nay,
good man, I will advise thee better: give me the incense and take from
me whatever thou wilt."--"Very well, St Peter," said the fool; "thou
must give me a little fife, but a fife of such a sort that whenever I
play upon it, every one will be obliged to dance."--"But dost thou
know how to play upon a fife?"--"No, but I can soon learn." Then St
Peter drew forth a little fife from his bosom and gave it to him, and
took away the incense, and who can say where he went with it? But Ivan
stood up and gazed at the sky and said, "Look now! if St Peter hath
not already burnt my incense and made of it that large white cloud
that is sailing above my head!" Then he took up his fife and began to
play, and the moment he began to play, everything around him began to
dance; the wolves, and the hares, and the foxes, and the bears, nay,
the very birds lit down upon the ground and began to dance, and Ivan
went on laughing and playing all the time. Even the savage, surly
bears danced and danced till their legs tottered beneath them. Then
they clutched tight hold of the trees to stop themselves from dancing;
but it was of no use, dance they must. At last Ivan himself was tired,
and lay down to rest, and when he had rested a little, he got up again
and went on into the town. There all the people were in the bazaars,
buying and selling. Some were buying pancakes, others baskets of
bright-coloured eggs, others again pitchers of _kvas_. Ivan began
playing on his fife, and forthwith they all fell a-dancing. One man
who had a whole basket of eggs on his head danced them into bits, and
danced and danced till he looked like the yolk of an egg himself.
Those who were asleep got up and gave themselves up to dancing
straightway; there were some who danced without trousers, and some who
danced without smocks or shirts, and there were some who danced with
nothing on at all, for dance they must when Ivan began a-playing. The
whole town was turned upside down: the dogs, the swine, the cocks and
hens, everything that had life came out and danced. At last Ivan was
tired, so he left off playing and went into the town to seek service.
The parson there took a fancy to him, and said to him, "Good man! wilt
enter my service?"--"That will I, gladly," said Ivan.--"How much wages
dost thou want by the year then?"--"It won't come dear; five
_karbovantsya_[27] are all I ask."--"Good, I agree," said the parson.
So he engaged Ivan as his servant, and the next day he sent him out
into the fields to tend his cattle. Ivan drove the cattle into the
pastures, but he himself perched on the top of a haystack while the
cattle grazed. He sat there, and sat and sat till he grew quite dull,
and then he said to himself, "I'll play a bit on my fife, I haven't
played for a long time." So he began to play, and immediately all the
cattle fell a-dancing; and not only the cattle, but all the foxes, and
the hares, and the wolves, and everything in the hedges and ditches
fell a-dancing too. They danced and danced till the poor cattle were
clean worn out and at the last gasp. In the evening Ivan drove them
home, but they were so famished that they tugged at the dirty straw
roofs of the huts they passed, and so got a chance mouthful or two.
But Ivan went in and had supper and a comfortable night's rest
afterward. The next day he again drove the cattle into the pastures.
They began grazing till he took out his fife again, when they all fell
a-dancing like mad. He played on and on till evening, when he drove
the cattle home again, and they were all as hungry as could be, and
wearied to death from dancing.

  [27] A _karbovanets_ is about four shillings.


Now the parson was not a little astonished when he saw his cattle.
"Where on earth has he been feeding them?" thought he; "they are quite
tired out and almost famished! I'll take care to go myself to-morrow,
and see exactly whither he takes them, and what he does with them." On
the third day the neat-herd again drove the cattle into the pastures,
but this time the parson followed after them, and went and hid himself
behind the hedge near to which Ivan was watching the cattle graze.
There he sat then, and watched to see what the man would do. Presently
Ivan mounted on to the haystack and began to play. And immediately all
the cattle fell a-dancing, and everything in the hedge, and the parson
behind the hedge danced too. Now the hedge was a quickset hedge, and
as the parson began capering about in it, he tore to shreds his
cassock and his breeches, and his under-coat, and his shirt, and
scratched his skin and wrenched out his beard as if he had been very
badly shaved, and still the poor parson had to go on dancing in the
midst of the prickly hedge till there were great weals and wounds all
over his body, and the red blood began to flow. Then the parson saw he
was in evil case, and shrieked to his herdsman to leave off playing;
but the herdsman was so wrapped up in his music that he did not hear
him; but at last he looked in the direction of the hedge, and when he
saw the poor parson skipping about like a lunatic, he stopped. The
parson darted away as fast as his legs could carry him toward the
village, and oh! what a sight he looked as he dashed through the
streets! The people didn't know him, and--scandalized that anybody
should run about in rags and tatters so that his whole body could be
seen--began to hoot him. Then the poor man turned aside from the
public road, crawled off through the woods, and dashed off through the
tall reeds of the gardens, with the dogs after him. For wherever he
went they took him for a robber, and hounded on the dogs. At last the
parson got home, all rags and tatters, so that when his wife saw him
she did not know him, but called to the labourers, "Help, help! here's
a robber, turn him out!" They came rushing up with sticks and cudgels,
but he began talking to them, and at last they recognized him, led him
home, and he told his wife all about Ivan. The parson's wife was so
amazed she could scarce believe it. In the evening Ivan drove home the
oxen, put them into their stalls, gave them straw to eat, and then
came into the house himself to have supper. He came into the house,
and the parson said to him, "Come now, Ivan, when thou hast rested a
bit, play my wife a little song!" But as for the parson, he took good
care to tie himself first of all to the pillar which held up the roof
of the house. Ivan sat down on the ground near to the threshold and
began to play. The parson's wife sat down on the bench to listen to
him while he played; but immediately she leaped up from the bench and
began to dance, and she danced with such hearty good-will that the
place became too small for her. Then the Devil seemed to take
possession of the cat too, for pussy leaped from under the stove and
began to spring and bound about also. The parson held on and held on
to the pillar with all his might, but it was of no use. He had no
power to resist; he let go with his hands, and tugged and tugged till
the rope that held him grew slacker and slacker, and then he went
dancing round and round the pillar at a furious rate, with the rope
chafing his hands and feet all the time. At last he could endure it no
longer, and bawled to Ivan to stop. "The deuce is in thee!" cried he.
Then Ivan stopped playing, put his fife into his breast-pocket, and
went and lay down to sleep. But the parson said to his wife, "We must
turn away this Ivan to-morrow, for he will be the death of ourselves
and our cattle!" Ivan, however, overheard what the parson said to his
wife, and getting up early in the morning, he went straight to the
parson, and said to him, "Give me one hundred _karbovantsya_, and I'll
be off; but if you won't give them to me, I'll play and play till you
and your wife have danced yourselves to death, and then I'll take your
place and live at mine ease." The parson scratched himself behind the
ears and hesitated; but at last he thought he had better give the
money and be quit of him. So he took the hundred _karbovantsya_ out of
his satchel and gave them to Ivan. Then Ivan played them a parting
song, till the parson and his wife fell down to the ground, dead-beat,
with their tongues lolling out of their mouths; and then he put his
fife into his breast-pocket, and wandered forth into the wide world.


There was once upon a time a lark who was the Tsar among the birds,
and he took unto himself as his Tsaritsa a little shrew-mouse. They
had a field all to themselves, which they sowed with wheat, and when
the wheat grew up they divided it between them, when they found that
there was one grain over! The mouse said, "Let me have it!" But the
lark said, "No, let me have it!"--"What's to be done?" thought they.
They would have liked to take counsel of some one, but they had no
parents or kinsmen, nobody at all to whom they could go and ask advice
in the matter. At last the mouse said, "At any rate, let me have the
first nibble!" The lark Tsar agreed to this; but the little mouse
fastened her teeth in it and ran off into her hole with it, and there
ate it all up. At this the Tsar lark was wrath, and collected all the
birds of the air to make war upon the mouse Tsaritsa; but the Tsaritsa
called together all the beasts to defend her, and so the war began.
Whenever the beasts came rushing out of the wood to tear the birds to
pieces, the birds flew up into the trees; but the birds kept in the
air, and hacked and pecked the beasts wherever they could. Thus they
fought the whole day, and in the evening they lay down to rest. Now
when the Tsaritsa looked around upon her forces, she saw that the ant
was taking no part in the war. She immediately went and commanded the
ant to be there by evening, and when the ant came, the Tsaritsa
ordered her to climb up the trees with her kinsmen and bite off the
feathers round the birds' wings.

Next day, when there was light enough to see by, the mouse Tsaritsa
cried, "Up, up, my warriors!" Thereupon the birds also rose up, and
immediately fell to the ground, where the beasts tore them to bits. So
the Tsaritsa overcame the Tsar. But there was one eagle who saw there
was something wrong, so he did not try to fly, but remained sitting on
the tree. And lo! there came an archer along that way, and seeing the
eagle on the tree, he took aim at it; but the eagle besought him and
said, "Do not kill me, and I'll be of great service to thee!" The
archer aimed a second time, but the eagle besought him still more and
said, "Take me down rather and keep me, and thou shalt see that it
will be to thy advantage." The archer, however, took aim a third time,
but the eagle began to beg of him most piteously, "Nay, kill me not,
but take me home with thee, and thou shalt see what great advantage it
will be to thee!" The archer believed the bird. He climbed up the
tree, took the eagle down, and carried it home. Then the eagle said to
him, "Put me in a hut, and feed me with flesh till my wings have grown

Now this archer had two cows and a steer, and he at once killed and
cut up one of the cows for the eagle. The eagle fed upon this cow for
a full year, and then he said to the archer, "Let me go, that I may
fly. I see that my wings have already grown again!" Then the archer
let him loose from the hut. The eagle flew round and round, he flew
about for half a day, and then he returned to the archer and said, "I
feel I have but little strength in me, slay me another cow!" And the
archer obeyed him, and slew the second cow, and the eagle lived upon
that for yet another year. Again the eagle flew round and round in the
air. He flew round and about the whole day till evening, when he
returned to the archer and said, "I am stronger than I was, but I have
still but little strength in me, slay me the steer also!" Then the man
thought to himself, "What shall I do? Shall I slay it, or shall I not
slay it?" At last he said, "Well! I've sacrificed more than this
before, so let this go too!" and he took the steer and slaughtered it
for the eagle. Then the eagle lived upon this for another whole year
longer, and after that he took to flight, and flew high up right to
the very clouds. Then he flew down again to the man and said to him,
"I thank thee, brother, for that thou hast been the saving of me! Come
now and sit upon me!"--"Nay, but," said the man, "what if some evil
befall me?"--"Sit on me, I say!" cried the eagle. So the archer sat
down upon the bird.

Then the eagle bore him nearly as high as the big clouds, and then let
him fall. Down plumped the man; but the eagle did not let him fall to
the earth, but swiftly flew beneath him and upheld him, and said to
him, "How dost thou feel now?"--"I feel," said the man, "as if I had
no life in me."--Then the eagle replied, "That was just how I felt
when thou didst aim at me the first time." Then he said to him, "Sit
on my back again!" The man did not want to sit on him, but what could
he do? Sit he must. Then the eagle flew with him quite as high as the
big clouds, and shook him off, and down he fell headlong till he was
about two fathoms from the ground, when the bird again flew beneath
him and held him up. Again the eagle asked him, "How dost thou feel?"
And the man replied, "I feel just as if all my bones were already
broken to bits!"--"That is just how I felt when thou didst take aim at
me the second time," replied the eagle. "But now sit on my back once
more." The man did so, and the eagle flew with him as high as the
small fleecy clouds, and then he shook him off, and down he fell
headlong; but when he was but a hand's-breadth from the earth, the
eagle again flew beneath him and held him up, and said to him, "How
dost thou feel now?" And he replied, "I feel as if I no longer
belonged to this world!"--"That is just how I felt when thou didst aim
at me the third time," replied the eagle. "But now," continued the
bird, "thou art guilty no more. We are quits. I owe thee naught, and
thou owest naught to me; so sit on my back again, and I'll take thee
to my master."

They flew on and on, they flew till they came to the eagle's uncle.
And the eagle said to the archer, "Go to my house, and when they ask
thee, 'Hast thou not seen our poor child?' reply, 'Give me the magic
egg, and I'll bring him before your eyes!'" So he went to the house,
and there they said to him, "Hast thou heard of our poor child with
thine ears, or seen him with thine eyes, and hast thou come hither
willingly or unwillingly?"--And he answered, "I have come hither
willingly!"--Then they asked, "Hast thou smelt out anything of our
poor youngster? for it is three years now since he went to the wars,
and there's neither sight nor sound of him more!"--And he answered,
"Give me the magic egg, and I'll bring him straightway before your
eyes!"--Then they replied, "'Twere better we never saw him than that
we should give thee the magic egg!"--Then he went back to the eagle
and said to him, "They said, ''Twere better we never saw him than that
we should give thee the magic egg.'"--Then the eagle answered, "Let us
fly on farther!"

They flew on and on till they came to the eagle's brother, and the
archer said just the same to him as he had said to the eagle's uncle,
and still he didn't get the egg. Then they flew to the eagle's father,
and the eagle said to him, "Go up to the hut, and if they ask for me,
say that thou hast seen me and will bring me before their eyes."--So
he went up to the hut, and they said to him, "O Tsarevich, we hear
thee with our ears and see thee with our eyes, but hast thou come
hither of thine own free will or by the will of another?"--And the
archer answered, "I have come hither of my own free will!"--Then they
asked him, "Hast thou seen our son? Lo, these four years we have not
had news of him. He went off to the wars, and perchance he has been
slain there."--And he answered them, "I have seen him, and if you will
give me the magic egg, I will bring him before your eyes."--And the
eagle's father said to him, "What good will such a thing do thee? We
had better give thee the lucky penny!"--But he answered, "I don't want
the lucky penny, give me the magic egg!"--"Come hither then," said he,
"and thou shalt have it." So he went into the hut. Then the eagle's
father rejoiced and gave him the egg, and said to him, "Take heed
thou dost not break it anywhere on the road, and when thou gettest
home, hedge it round and build a strong fence about it, and it will do
thee good."

So he went homeward. He went on and on till a great thirst came upon
him. So he stopped at the first spring he came to, and as he stooped
to drink he stumbled and the magic egg was broken. Then he perceived
that an ox had come out of the egg and was rolling away. He gave chase
to the ox, but whenever he was getting close to one side of it, the
other side of it got farther away from him. Then the poor fellow
cried, "I shall do nothing with it myself, I see."--At that moment an
old she-dragon came up to him and said, "What wilt thou give me, O
man, if I chase this ox back again into the egg for thee?"--And the
archer replied, "What _can_ I give?"--The dragon said to him, "Give me
what thou hast at home without thy will and wit!"--"Done!" said the
archer. Then the dragon chased the ox nicely into the egg again,
patched it up prettily and gave it into the man's hand. Then the
archer went home, and when he got home he found a son had been born to
him there, and his son said to him, "Why didst thou give me to the old
she-dragon, dad? But never mind, I'll manage to live in spite of her."
Then the father was very grieved for a time, but what could he do? Now
the name of this son was Ivan.

So Ivan lost no time in going to the dragon, and the dragon said to
him, "Go to my house and do me three tasks, and if thou dost them not,
I'll devour thee." Now, round the dragon's house was a large meadow
as far as the eye could reach. And the dragon said to him, "Thou must
in a single night weed out this field and sow wheat in it, and reap
the wheat and store it, all in this very night; and thou must bake me
a roll out of this self-same wheat, and the roll must be lying ready
for me on my table in the morning."

Then Ivan went and leaned over the fence, and his heart within him was
sore troubled. Now near to him there was a post, and on this post was
the dragon's starveling daughter. So when he came thither and fell
a-weeping, she asked him, "Wherefore dost thou weep?"--And he said,
"How can I help weeping? The dragon has bidden me do something I can
never, never do; and what is more, she has bidden me do it in a single
night."--"What is it, pray?" asked the dragon's daughter. Then he told
her. "Not every bush bears a berry!" cried she. "Promise to take me to
wife, and I'll do all she has bidden thee do." He promised, and then
she said to him again, "Now go and lie down, but see that thou art up
early in the morning to bring her her roll." Then she went to the
field, and before one could whistle she had cleaned it of weeds and
harrowed it and sown it with wheat, and by dawn she had reaped the
wheat and cooked the roll and brought it to him, and said, "Now, take
it to her hut and put it on her table."

Then the old she-dragon awoke and came to the door, and was amazed at
the sight of the field, which was now all stubble, for the corn had
been cut. Then she said to Ivan, "Yes, thou hast done the work well.
But now, see that thou doest my second task." Then she gave him her
second command. "Dig up that mountain yonder and let the Dnieper flow
over the site of it, and there build a store-house, and in the
store-house stack the wheat that thou hast reaped, and sell this wheat
to the merchant barques that sail by, and everything must be done by
the time I get up early next morning!" Then he again went to the fence
and wept, and the maiden said to him, "Why dost thou weep?" and he
told her all that the she-dragon had bidden him do. "There are lots of
bushes, but where are the berries? Go and lie down, and I'll do it all
for thee." Then she whistled, and the mountain was levelled and the
Dnieper flowed over the site of it, and round about the Dnieper
store-houses rose up, and then she came and woke him that he might go
and sell the wheat to the merchant barques that sailed by that way,
and when the she-dragon rose up early in the morning she was amazed to
see that everything had been done which she had commanded him.

Then she gave him her third command. "This night thou must catch the
golden hare, and bring it to me by the morning light." Again he went
to the fence and fell a-weeping. And the girl asked him, "Why art thou
weeping?"--He said to her, "She has ordered me to catch her the golden
hare."--"Oh, oh!" cried the she-dragon's daughter, "the berries are
ripening now; only her father knows how to catch such a hare as that.
Nevertheless, I'll go to a rocky place I know of, and there perchance
we shall be able to catch it." So they went to this rocky place
together, and she said to him, "Stand over that hole. I'll go in and
chase him out of the hole, and do thou catch him as he comes out; but
mind, whatever comes out of the hole, seize it, for it will be the
golden hare."

So she went and began beating up, and all at once out came a snake and
hissed, and he let it go. Then she came out of the hole and said to
him, "What! has nothing come out?"--"Well," said he, "only a snake,
and I was afraid it would bite me, so I let it go."--"What hast thou
done?" said she; "that was the very hare itself. Look now!" said she,
"I'll go in again, and if any one comes out and tells you that the
golden hare is not here, don't believe it, but hold him fast." So she
crept into the hole again and began to beat for game, and out came an
old woman, who said to the youth, "What art thou poking about there
for?"--And he said to her, "For the golden hare."--She said to him,
"It is not here, for this is a snake's hole," and when she had said
this she went away. Presently the girl also came out and said to him,
"What! hast thou not got the hare? Did nothing come out then?"--"No,"
said he, "nothing but an old woman who asked me what I was seeking,
and I told her the golden hare, and she said, 'It is not here,' so I
let her go."--Then the girl replied, "Why didst thou not lay hold of
her? for she was the very golden hare itself, and now thou never wilt
catch it unless I turn myself into a hare and thou take and lay me on
the table, and give me into my mother's, the she-dragon's hands, and
go away, for if she find out all about it she will tear the pair of us
to pieces."

So she changed herself into a hare, and he took and laid her on the
table, and said to the she-dragon, "There's thy hare for thee, and
now let me go away!" She said to him, "Very well--be off!" Then he set
off running, and he ran and ran as hard as he could. Soon after, the
old she-dragon discovered that it was not the golden hare, but her own
daughter, so she set about chasing after them to destroy them both,
for the daughter had made haste in the meantime to join Ivan. But as
the she-dragon couldn't run herself, she sent her husband, and he
began chasing them, and they knew he was coming, for they felt the
earth trembling beneath his tread. Then the she-dragon's daughter said
to Ivan, "I hear him running after us. I'll turn myself into standing
wheat and thee into an old man guarding me, and if he ask thee, 'Hast
thou seen a lad and a lass pass by this way?' say to him, 'Yes, they
passed by this way while I was sowing this wheat!'"

A little while afterward the she-dragon's husband came flying up.
"Have a lad and a lass passed by this way?" said he. "Yes," replied
the old man, "they have."--"Was it long ago?" asked the she-dragon's
husband.--"It was while this wheat was being sown," replied the old
man.--"Oh!" thought the dragon, "this wheat is ready for the sickle,
they couldn't have been this way yesterday," so he turned back. Then
the she-dragon's daughter turned herself back into a maiden and the
old man into a youth, and off they set again. But the dragon returned
home, and the she-dragon asked him, "What! hast thou not caught them
or met them on the road?"--"Met them, no!" said he. "I did, indeed,
pass on the road some standing wheat and an old man watching it, and
I asked the old man if he had seen a lad and a lass pass by that way,
and he said, 'Yes, while this wheat was being sown,' but the wheat was
quite ripe for the sickle, so I knew it was a long while ago and
turned back."--"Why didst thou not tear that old man and the wheat to
pieces?" cried the she-dragon; "it was they! Be off after them again,
and mind, this time tear them to pieces without fail."

So the dragon set off after them again, and they heard him coming from
afar, for the earth trembled beneath him, so the damsel said to Ivan,
"He's coming again, I hear him; now I'll change myself into a
monastery, so old that it will be almost falling to pieces, and I'll
change thee into an old black monk at the gate, and when he comes up
and asks, 'Hast thou seen a lad and a lass pass this way?' say to him,
'Yes, they passed by this way when this monastery was being built.'"
Soon afterward the dragon came flying past, and asked the monk, "Hast
thou seen a lad and a lass pass by this way?"--"Yes," he replied, "I
saw them what time the holy fathers began to build this monastery."
The dragon thought to himself, "That was not yesterday! This monastery
has stood a hundred years if it has stood a day, and won't stand much
longer either," and with that he turned him back. When he got home, he
said to the she-dragon, his wife, "I met a black monk who serves in a
monastery, and I asked him about them, and he told me that a lad and a
lass had run past that way when the monastery was being built, but
that was not yesterday, for the monastery is a hundred years old at
the very least."--"Why didst thou not tear the black monk to pieces
and pull down the monastery? for 'twas they. But I see I must go after
them myself, thou art no good at all."

So off she set and ran and ran, and they knew she was coming, for the
earth quaked and yawned beneath her. Then the damsel said to Ivan, "I
fear me 'tis all over, for she is coming herself! Look now! I'll
change thee into a stream and myself into a fish--a perch."
Immediately after the she-dragon came up and said to the perch, "Oh,
oh! so thou wouldst run away from me, eh!" Then she turned herself
into a pike and began chasing the perch, but every time she drew near
to it, the perch turned its prickly fins toward her, so that she could
not catch hold of it. So she kept on chasing it and chasing it, but
finding she could not catch it, she tried to drink up the stream, till
she drank so much of it that she burst.

Then the maiden who had become a fish said to the youth who had become
a river, "Now that we are alive and not dead, go back to thy
lord-father and thy father's house and see them, and kiss them all
except the daughter of thy uncle, for if thou kiss that damsel thou
wilt forget me, and I shall go to the land of Nowhere." So he went
home and greeted them all, and as he did so he thought to himself,
"Why should I not greet my uncle's daughter like the rest of them?
Why, they'll think me a mere pagan if I don't!" So he kissed her, and
the moment he did so he forgot all about the girl who had saved him.

So he remained there half a year, and then bethought him of taking
to himself a wife. So they betrothed him to a very pretty girl, and
he accepted her and forgot all about the other girl who had saved
him from the dragon, though she herself was the she-dragon's daughter.
Now the evening before the wedding they heard a young damsel crying
_Shishki_[28] in the streets. They called to the young damsel to go
away, or say who she was, for nobody knew her. But the damsel
answered never a word, but began to knead more cakes, and made a
cock-dove and a hen-dove out of the dough and put them down on the
ground, and they became alive. And the hen-dove said to the
cock-dove, "Hast thou forgotten how I cleared the field for thee, and
sowed it with wheat, and thou mad'st a roll from the corn which thou
gavest to the she-dragon?"--But the cock-dove answered, "Forgotten!
forgotten!"--Then she said to him again, "And hast thou forgotten how
I dug away the mountain for thee, and let the Dnieper flow by it that
the merchant barques might come to thy store-houses, and that thou
mightst sell thy wheat to the merchant barques?" But the cock-dove
replied, "Forgotten! forgotten!"--Then the hen-dove said to him
again, "And hast thou forgotten how we two went together in search of
the golden hare? Hast thou forgotten me then altogether?"--And the
cock-dove answered again, "Forgotten! forgotten!" Then the good
youth Ivan bethought him who this damsel was that had made the doves,
and he took her to his arms and made her his wife, and they lived
happily ever afterward.

  [28] Wedding-cakes of the shape of pine-cones.


There was once upon a time an old man who had forty-one sons. Now
when this old man was at the point of death, he divided all he had
among his sons, and gave to each of the forty a horse; but when he
came to the forty-first he found he had no more horses left, so the
forty-first brother had to be content with a foal. When their father
was dead, the brothers said to each other, "Let us go to Friday and
get married!"--But the eldest brother said, "No, Friday has only
forty daughters, so one of us would be left without a bride."--Then
the second brother said, "Let us go then to Wednesday--Wednesday has
forty-one daughters, and so the whole lot of us can pair off with the
whole lot of them." So they went and chose their brides. The eldest
brother took the eldest sister, and the youngest the youngest,
till they were all suited. And the youngest brother of all said,
"I'll take that little damsel who is sitting on the stove in the
corner and has the nice kerchief in her hand." Then they all drank
a bumper together to seal the bargain, and after that the forty-one
bridegrooms and the forty-one brides laid them down to sleep side by
side. But the youngest brother of all said to himself, "I will
bring my foal into the room." So he brought in the foal, and then
went to his bedchamber and laid him down to sleep also. Now his
bride lay down with her kerchief in her hand, and he took a great
fancy to it, and he begged and prayed her for it again and again,
until at last she gave it to him. Now, when Wednesday thought that
all the people were asleep, he went out into the courtyard to sharpen
his sabre. Then the foal said, "Oh, my dear little master, come
here, come here!" He came, and the foal said to him, "Take off the
night-dresses of the forty sleeping bridegrooms and put them on the
forty sleeping brides, and put the night-dresses of the brides on
the bridegrooms, for a great woe is nigh!" And he did so. When
Wednesday had sharpened his sabre he came into the room and began
feeling for the stiff collars of the bridegrooms' night-dresses, and
straightway cut off the forty heads above the collars. Then he carried
off the heads of his forty daughters in a bunch (for the brides
now had on the night-dresses of their bridegrooms), and went and
lay down to sleep. Then the foal said, "My dear little father! awake
the bridegrooms, and we'll set off." So he awoke the bridegrooms
and sent them on before, while he followed after on his own little
nag. They trotted on and on, and at last the foal said to him, "Look
behind, and see whether Wednesday is not pursuing." He looked round:
"Yes, little brother," said he, "Wednesday _is_ pursuing!"--"Shake
thy kerchief then!" said the foal. He shook his kerchief, and
immediately a vast sea was between him and the pursuer. Then they
went on and on till the foal said to him again, "Look behind, and
see if Wednesday is still pursuing!"--He looked round. "Yes, little
brother, he _is_ pursuing!"--"Wave thy handkerchief on the left
side!" said the foal. He waved it on the left side, and immediately
between them and the pursuer stood a forest so thick that not
even a little mouse could have squeezed through it. Then they went on
still farther, till the foal said again, "Look behind, and see
whether Wednesday is still pursuing!"--He looked behind, and
there, sure enough, was Wednesday running after them, and he was not
very far off either.--"Wave thy kerchief!" said the foal. He waved
his kerchief, and immediately a steep mountain--oh, so steep!--lay
betwixt them. They went on and on, until the foal said again, "Look
behind, is Wednesday still pursuing?"--So he looked behind him and
said, "No, now he is not there." Then they went on and on again,
and soon they were not very far from home. Then the youngest brother
said, "You go home now, but I am going to seek a bride!" So he went
on and on till he came to a place where lay a feather of the bird
Zhar. "Look!" cried he, "what I've found!"--But the foal said to
him, "Pick not up that feather, for it will bring thee evil as well
as good!"--But his master said, "Why, I should be a fool not to pick
up a feather like that!" So he turned back and picked up the
feather. Then he went on farther and farther, until he came to a
clay hut. He went into this clay hut, and there sat an old woman.
"Give me a night's lodging, granny!" said he.--"I have neither bed
nor light to offer thee," said she. Nevertheless he entered the hut
and put the feather on the window-corner, and it lit up the whole
hut. So he went to sleep. But the old woman ran off to the Tsar, and
said to him, "A certain man has come to me and laid a certain
feather on the window-sill, and it shines like fire!" Then the
Tsar guessed that it was a feather of the bird Zhar, and said to his
soldiers, "Go and fetch that man hither!" And the Tsar said to him,
"Wilt thou enter my service?"--"Yes," he replied, "but you must give
me all your keys." So the Tsar gave him all the keys and a hut of his
own to live in besides. But one day the Tsar said to his servants,
"Boil me now a vat of milk!" So they boiled it. Then he took off his
gold ring, and said to the man, "Thou didst get the feather of the
bird Zhar, get me also this golden ring of mine out of the vat of
boiling milk!"--"Bring hither, then, my faithful horse," said he,
"that he may see his master plunge into the vat of boiling milk and
die!" So they brought his horse, and, taking off his clothes, he
plunged into the vat, but as he did so the horse snorted so
violently that all the boiling milk leaped up in the air and the
man seized the ring and gave it back to the Tsar. Now when the Tsar
saw that the man had come out of the vat younger and handsomer than
ever, he said, "I'll try and fish up the ring in like manner." So he
flung his ring into the vat of boiling milk and plunged after it
to get it. The people waited and waited and wondered and wondered
that he was so long about it, and at last they drained off the
milk and found the Tsar at the bottom of the vat boiled quite red.
Then the man said, "Now, Tsaritsa, thou art mine and I am thine." And
they lived together happily ever afterward.


At the end of a village on the verge of the steppe dwelt two brothers,
one rich and the other poor. One day the poor brother came to the rich
brother's house and sat down at his table; but the rich brother drove
him away and said, "How durst thou sit at my table? Be off! Thy proper
place is in the fields to scare away the crows!" So the poor brother
went into the fields to scare away the crows. The crows all flew away
when they saw him, but among them was a raven that flew back again and
said to him, "O man! in this village thou wilt never be able to live,
for here there is neither luck nor happiness for thee, but go into
another village and thou shalt do well!" Then the man went home,
called together his wife and children, put up the few old clothes that
still remained in his wardrobe, and went on to the next village,
carrying his water-skin on his shoulders. On and on they tramped along
the road, but the Unlucky Days clung on to the man behind, and said,
"Why dost thou not take us with thee? We will never leave thee, for
thou art ours!" So they went on with him till they came to a river,
and the man, who was thirsty, went down to the water's edge for a
drink. He undid his water-skin, persuaded the Unlucky Days to get into
it, tied it fast again and buried it on the bank close by the river.
Then he and his family went on farther. They went on and on till they
came to another village, and at the very end of it was an empty
hut--the people who had lived there had died of hunger. There the
whole family settled down. One day they were all sitting down there
when they heard something in the mountain crying, "Catch hold! catch
hold! catch hold!" The man went at once into his stable, took down the
bit and reins that remained to him, and climbed up into the mountain.
He looked all about him as he went, and at last he saw, sitting down,
an old goat with two large horns--it was the Devil himself, but of
course he didn't know that. So he made a lasso of the reins, threw
them round the old goat, and began to drag it gently down the
mountain-side. He dragged it all the way up the ladder of his barn,
when the goat disappeared, but showers and showers of money came
tumbling through the ceiling. He collected them all together, and they
filled two large coffers. Then the poor man made the most of his
money, and in no very long time he was well-to-do. Then he sent some
of his people to his rich brother, and invited him to come and live
with him. The rich brother pondered the matter over. "Maybe he has
nothing to eat," thought he, "and that is why he sends for me." So he
bade them bake him a good store of fat pancakes, and set out
accordingly. On the way he heard that his brother had grown rich, and
the farther he went the more he heard of his brother's wealth. Then he
regretted that he had brought all the pancakes with him, so he threw
them away into the ditch. At last he came to his brother's house, and
his brother showed him first one of the coffers full of money and then
the other. Then envy seized upon the rich brother, and he grew quite
green in the face. But his brother said to him, "Look now! I have
buried a lot more money in a water-skin, hard by the river; you may
dig it up and keep it if you like, for I have lots of my own here!"
The rich brother did not wait to be told twice. Off he went to the
river, and began digging up the water-skin straightway. He unfastened
it with greedy, trembling hands; but he had no sooner opened it than
the Unlucky Days all popped out and clung on to him. "Thou art ours!"
said they. He went home, and when he got there he found that all his
wealth was consumed, and a heap of ashes stood where his house had
been. So he went and lived in the place where his brother had lived,
and the Unlucky Days lived with him ever afterward.


Somewhere, nowhere, in another kingdom, in the Empire of Thrice-ten,
lived--whether 'twas a Tsar and a Tsaritsa, or only a Prince and a
Princess, I know not, but anyhow they had two sons. One day this
prince said to his sons, "Let us go down to the seashore and listen to
the songs of the sea-folk!" So they went. Now the prince wanted to
test the wits of his two sons; he wanted to see which of the twain was
fit for ruling his empire, and which should stand aside and make way
for better men. So they went on together till they came to where three
oaks stood all in a row. The prince looked at the trees, and said to
his eldest son, "My dear son, what wouldst thou make of those trees?"

"What would I make of them, dear father? I would make me good barns
and store-houses out of them. I would cut them down and plane the
timber well, and goodly should be the planks I should make of them."

"Good, my son!" replied the prince, "thou wilt make a careful

Then he asked his younger son, "And what wouldst thou make out of
these oaks, my son?"

"Well, dear father," said he, "had I only as much power as will, I
would cut down the middle oak, lay it across the other two, and hang
up every prince and every noble in the wide world."

Then the prince shook his head and was silent.

Presently they came to the sea, and all three stood still and looked
at it, and watched the fishes play. Then, suddenly, the prince caught
hold of his younger son, and pitched him right into the sea. "Perish!"
cried he, "for 'tis but just that such a wretch as thou shouldst

Now, just as the father pitched his younger son into the sea, a great
whale-fish was coming along and swallowed him, and into its maw he
went. There he found wagons with horses and oxen harnessed to them,
all of which the fish had also gobbled. So he went rummaging about
these wagons to see what was in them, and he found that one of the
wagons was full of tobacco-pipes and tobacco, and flints and steels.
So he took up a pipe, filled it with tobacco, lit it, and began to
smoke. He smoked out one pipe, filled another, and smoked that too;
then he filled a third, and began smoking that. At last the smoke
inside the whale made it feel so uncomfortable that it opened its
mouth, swam ashore, and went asleep on the beach. Now some huntsmen
happened to be going along the beach at that time, and one of them saw
the whale, and said, "Look, my brethren! we have been hunting jays and
crows and shot nothing, and lo! what a monstrous fish lies all about
the shore! Let us shoot it!"

So they shot at it and shot at it, and then they fell upon it with
their axes and began to cut it to pieces. They cut and hacked at it
till suddenly they heard something calling to them from the middle of
the fish, "Ho! my brothers! hack fish if you like, but hack not that
flesh which is full of Christian blood!"

They fell down to the ground for fright, and were like dead men, but
the prince's younger son crept out of the hole in the fish that the
huntsmen had made, went out upon the shore, and sat down. He sat down
there quite naked, for all his clothes had rotted and dropped off
inside the fish. Maybe he had been a whole year in the whale without
knowing it, and he thought to himself, "How shall I now manage to live
in the wide, wide world?"

Meanwhile the elder brother had become a great nobleman. His father
had died, and he was lord over his whole inheritance. Then, as is the
wont of princes, he called together his senators and his servants, and
they counselled their young prince to marry; so out he went to seek a
bride, and a great retinue followed after him. They went on and on
till they came to where a naked man was sitting. Then the prince said
to one of his servants, "Go and see what manner of man that is!"

So the servant went up to the man, and said, "Hail!"

"Hail to thee!"

"Who art thou, prythee?"

"I am Ivan Golik.[29] Who art thou?"

  [29] Naked.

"We are from such and such a land, and we are going with our prince to
seek him a bride."

"Go, tell thy prince that he must take me with him, for he'll make no
good match without me."

So the messenger returned to the prince and told him. Then the prince
bade his servants open his trunk and take out a shirt and pantaloons
and all manner of raiment, whereupon the naked man went into the water
and washed, and after that he dressed himself. Then they brought him
to the prince, and he said to him, "If you take me with you, you must
all obey me. If you listen to me, you shall remain in the land of
Russia; but if not, you shall all perish."

"Be it so!" said the prince, and he bade all his suite obey him.

They went on and on till they overtook the hosts of the mice. The
prince wanted to go hunting after the mice, but Ivan Golik said, "Nay,
step aside and give place to the mice, so that not a single one of
them lose a single hair!"

So they turned aside, and the mice swept by in their hosts, but the
hindmost mouse turned round and said, "Thanks to thee, Ivan Golik,
thou hast saved my host from perishing; I will save thine also."

Then they went on farther, and lo! the gnat was marching with his
host, and so vast was it that no eye could take it all in. Then the
lieutenant-general of the gnats came flying up and said, "Oh, Ivan
Golik! let my host drink of thy blood. If thou dost consent, 'twill be
to thy profit; but if thou dost not consent, thou shalt not remain in
the land of Russia."

Then he stripped off his shirt and bade them tie him up so that he
could not beat off a single gnat, and the gnats drank their fill of
him and flew off again.

After that they went along by the seashore till they came to a man who
had caught two pike. Then Ivan Golik said to the prince, "Buy those
two pike of the man, and let them go into the sea again."

"But wherefore?"

"Ask not wherefore, but buy them!"

So they bought the pike, and let them go into the sea again. But as
they swam away, the pike turned round and said, "We thank thee, Ivan
Golik, that thou hast not let us perish, and it shall be to thy weal
and welfare!"

Swiftly they moved on their way, but the story that tells thereof
moves still swifter. They went on and on, for more than a month maybe,
till they came to another land and to another tsardom, to the Empire
of Thrice-ten. And the serpent was the Tsar of that tsardom. Vast were
his palaces, iron railings surrounded his courtyards, and the railings
were covered with the heads of various warriors; only on the twenty
huge pillars in front of the gate were there no heads. As they drew
nigh, deadly fear oppressed the heart of the prince, and he said to
Ivan, "Mark me, Ivan! those pillars yonder are meant for _our_
heads!"--"That remains to be seen," replied Ivan Golik.

When they arrived there, the serpent at first treated them hospitably
as welcome guests. They were all to come in and make merry, he said,
but the prince he took to his own house. So they ate and drank
together, and the thoughts of their hearts were joyous. Now the
serpent had twenty-one daughters, and he brought them to the prince,
and told him which was the eldest, and which the next eldest, down to
the very last one. But it was the youngest daughter of all that the
prince's fancy fed upon more than on any of the others. Thus they
diverted themselves till evening, and in the evening they made ready
to go to sleep. But the serpent said to the prince, "Well, which of
my daughters dost thou think the loveliest?"

"The youngest is the most beautiful," said the prince, "and her will I

"Good!" said the serpent, "but I will not let thee have my daughter
till thou hast done all my tasks. If thou doest my tasks, thou shalt
have my daughter; but if thou doest them not, thou shalt lose thy
head, and all thy suite shall perish with thee."

Then he gave him his first task: "In my barn are three hundred ricks
of corn; by the morning light thou shalt have threshed and sifted them
so that stalk lies by stalk, chaff by chaff, and grain by grain."

Then the prince went to his own place to pass the night there, and
bitterly he wept. But Ivan Golik saw that he was weeping, and said to
him, "Why dost thou weep, O prince?"

"Why should I not weep, seeing the task that the serpent has given me
is impossible?"

"Nay, weep not, my prince, but lie down to sleep, and by the morning
light it will all be done!"

No sooner had Ivan Golik left the prince than he went outside and
whistled for the mice. Then the mice assembled round them in their
hosts: "Why dost thou whistle, and what dost thou want of us, O Ivan
Golik?" said they.

"Why should I not whistle, seeing that the serpent has bidden us
thresh out his barn by the morning light, so that straw lies by straw,
chaff by chaff, and grain by grain?"

No sooner did the mice hear this than they began scampering all about
the barn! There were so many of them that there was not room to move.
They set to work with a will, and long before dawn it was quite
finished. Then they went and awoke Ivan Golik. He went and looked, and
lo! all the chaff was by itself, and all the grain was by itself, and
all the straw by itself! Then Ivan bade them be quite sure that there
was not a single grain remaining in a single ear of corn. So they
scampered all about, and there was not a mouse which did not look
under every stalk of straw. Then they ran up to him, and said, "Fear
not! there is not a single loose grain anywhere. And now we have
requited thee thy service, Ivan Golik, farewell!"

Next morning the prince came to seek Ivan, and marvelled to find that
everything had been done as the serpent had commanded. So he thanked
Ivan Golik, and went off to the serpent. Then they both went together,
and the serpent himself was amazed. He called to his twenty-one
daughters to search the ears of corn well to see whether one single
grain might not be found therein, and his daughters searched and
searched, but there was not a single loose grain to be found. Then
said the serpent, "'Tis well, let us go! We will eat and drink and
make merry till evening, and in the evening I will give thee thy
to-morrow's task." So they made merry till evening, and then the
serpent said, "Early this morning, my youngest daughter went bathing
in the sea and lost her ring in the water. She searched and searched
for it, but could find it nowhere. If thou canst find it to-morrow,
and bring it hither while we are sitting down to meat, thou shalt
remain alive; if not, 'tis all over with thee!"

The prince returned to his own people and fell a-weeping. Ivan Golik
perceived it, and said to him, "Wherefore dost thou weep?"

"For such and such a reason," said he; "dost thou not see that I am

Then said Ivan Golik, "The serpent lies. He himself it was who took
his daughter's ring and flew over the sea early this morning, and
dropped it in the water. But lie down and sleep! I myself will go to
the sea to-morrow, haply I may find the ring."

So, very early next morning, Ivan Golik went down to the sea. He
shouted with an heroic voice, and whistled with an heroic whistle,
till the whole sea was troubled by a storm. Then the two pike he had
thrown back into the sea came swimming to the shore. "Why dost thou
call us, O Ivan Golik?" said they.

"Why should I not call you? The serpent flew over the sea early
yesterday morning and dropped in it his daughter's ring. Search for it
everywhere. If you find it, I shall remain alive, but if you find it
not, know that the serpent will remove me from the face of the

Then they swam off and searched, nor was there a single corner of the
sea where they searched not. Yet they found nothing. At last they swam
off to their mother, and told her what a great woe was about to
befall. Their mother said to them, "The ring is with me. I am sorry
for him, and still more sorry for you, so you may have it." And with
that she drew off the ring, and they swam with it to Ivan Golik, and
said, "Now we have requited thy service. We have found it, but 'twas a
hard task."

Then Ivan Golik thanked the two pike and went on his way. He found the
prince weeping, for the serpent had already sent for him twice, and
there was no ring. The moment he saw Ivan Golik he sprang to his feet,
and said, "Hast thou the ring?"

"Yes, here it is! But look! the serpent himself is coming!"

"Let him come!"

The serpent was already on the threshold as the prince was going out.
They ran against each other with their foreheads, and the serpent was
very angry. "Where's the ring?" cried he.

"There it is! But I will not give it to thee, but to her from whom
thou didst take it."

The serpent laughed. "Very good!" said he, "but now let us go to
dinner, for my guests are many, and we have been waiting for thee this
long time."

So they went. The prince arrived at the house, where eleven serpents
were sitting down to dinner. He saluted them, and then went on to the
daughters, and said, as he drew off the ring, "To which of you does
this belong?"

Then the youngest daughter blushed and said, "To me!"

"If it be thine, take it, for I sounded all the depths of the sea in
searching for it."

All the others laughed, but the youngest daughter thanked him.

Then they all went to dine. After dinner the serpent said to him, in
the presence of all the guests, "Well, prince, now that thou hast
dined and rested, to thy tasks again! I have a bow of one hundred
poods[30] weight. If thou canst bend this bow in the presence of these
my guests, thou shalt have my daughter!"

  [30] A pood = forty pounds.

When dinner was over they all lay down to rest, but the prince
hastened off as quickly as he could to Ivan Golik, and said, "Now
indeed it is all over with us, for he has given me such and such a

"Simpleton!" cried Ivan Golik, "when they bring forth this bow, look
at it, and say to the serpent, 'I should be ashamed to bend a bow that
the least of my servants can bend!' Then call me, and I'll bend the
bow so that none other will be able to bend it again."

With that the prince went straight off to the serpent again, and the
serpent commanded and they brought the bow, together with an arrow
weighing fifty poods. When the prince saw it, he was like to have died
of fright; but they put the bow down in the middle of the courtyard,
and all the guests came out to look at it. The prince walked all round
the bow and looked at it. "Why," said he, "I would not deign to touch
a bow like that. I'll call one of my servants, for any one of them can
bend such a bow as that!"

Then the serpent looked at the prince's servants one after the other,
and said, "Well, let them try!"

"Come forward thou, Ivan Golik!" cried the prince.

And the prince said to him, "Take me up that bow and bend it!"

Ivan Golik took up the bow, placed the arrow across it, and drew the
bow so that the arrow split into twelve pieces and the bow burst.
Then the prince said, "Did I not tell you? and was I to put myself to
shame by touching a bow that one of my servants can draw?"


After that Ivan Golik returned to his fellow-servants, and put the
pieces of the broken bow behind his shin-bone; but the prince returned
with the serpents into the guest-chamber, and they all rejoiced
because he had done his appointed task. But the serpent whispered
something in the ear of his youngest daughter, and she went out, and
he after her. They remained outside a long time, and then the serpent
came in again, and said to the prince, "There is no time for anything
more to-day, but we'll begin again early to-morrow morning. I have a
horse behind twelve doors; if thou canst mount it, thou shalt have my

Then they made merry again till evening and lay down to sleep, but the
prince went and told Golik. Golik listened to the prince, and said,
"Now thou knowest, I suppose, why I took up those pieces of the broken
bow, for I could see what was coming. When they lead forth this horse,
look at it and say, 'I will not mount that horse lest I put myself to
shame. 'Tis with the horse as with the bow, any one of my servants can
mount it!' But that horse is no horse at all, but the serpent's
youngest daughter! Thou must not sit upon her back, but I will trounce
her finely."

Early in the morning they all arose, and the prince went to the
serpent's house to greet them all, and there he saw twenty of the
serpent's daughters, but where was the twenty-first? Then the serpent
got up and said, "Well, prince, now let us come down into the
courtyard; they'll soon bring out the horse, and we'll see what thou
dost make of it."

So they all went out and saw two serpents bringing out the horse, and
it was as much as the pair of them could do to hold its head, so
fierce and strong it was. They led it out in front of the gallery, and
the prince walked round it and looked at it. Then said he, "What! did
you not say you would bring out a _horse_? Why, this is no horse, but
a mare. I will not sit on this mare, for 'twould be to my shame. I
will call one of my servants, and he shall mount her."

"Good!" said the serpent, "let him try!"

The prince called forth Ivan Golik. "Sit on that mare," said he, "and
trot her about!"

Ivan mounted the mare, and the two serpents let go. She carried him
right up among the clouds, and then down again upon the ground she
came, with a ringing of hoofs that made the earth tremble. But Ivan
Golik took out a fragment of the broken bow, fifty pounds in weight,
and trounced her finely. She reared and bucked and carried him hither
and thither, but he flogged her between the ears without ceasing. So
when she saw that all her prancing and curveting was in vain, she fell
to piteously beseeching him, and cried, "Ivan Golik! Ivan Golik! beat
me not, and I'll do all thy behests!"

"I have nothing to do with thee at all," said he, "but when thou dost
come up to the prince, fall down before him, and stretch out thy legs
toward him!"

At this she bethought her for a long time. "Well," cried she at last,
"it must be so, there is no doing anything with thee!" So she carried
him all over the courtyard, fell down before the prince, and stretched
out her legs toward him.

Then said the prince, "Thou seest what a sorry jade it is! And ye
would have had me mount such a mare!"

At this the serpent was full of shame, but there was nothing to be
said or done. So they went into the garden and sat them down to
dinner. The youngest daughter met them there, and they greeted her.
The prince could not refrain from looking at her, so fair was she, and
now she seemed fairer than ever. Then they sat down and ate, and when
the meal was over the serpent said, "Well, prince, after dinner I'll
bring all my daughters into the courtyard, and if you can find out the
youngest, you may be happy together."

So after dinner the serpent bade his daughters go and dress
themselves, but the prince took counsel of Ivan Golik. Ivan whistled,
and immediately the gnat came flying up. He told the gnat all about
it, and the gnat said, "Thou didst help me, so now I will help thee.
When the serpent brings out his daughters, let the prince keep his
eyes open, for I will fly on her head. Let him walk round them once,
and I will fly round them too. Let him walk round them a second time,
and I will fly round them twice also. Let him walk round them a third
time, and then I'll settle on her nose, and she will not be able to
endure my bite, but will strike at me with her right hand." And with
these words the gnat flew off into the house.

Soon afterward the serpent sent for the prince. He went, and there in
the courtyard stood the twenty-one daughters. They were as like as
peas, their faces, their hair, and their raiment were exactly the
same. He looked and looked, but could not tell one from the other. He
walked round them the first time, but there was no sign of the gnat.
He walked round them the second time, and the gnat came and lit upon
her head. Henceforth he never took his eyes off the gnat, and when he
had begun to walk round the twenty-one daughters for the third time,
the gnat sat on the nose of the youngest, and began to bite her. She
brushed it off with her right hand, whereupon the prince said, "She is
mine!" and led her to the serpent.

The serpent was amazed, but said, "Since thou hast found out thy
bride, we'll wed thee to-day, and all be merry together."

So they made them merry, and that very evening the young couple got
their bridal crowns. And they feasted and fired guns, and what else
did they not do? But at night, Ivan Golik took the prince aside, and
said to him, "Now, prince, see that we go home to-morrow, for they
mean us no good here. And now, listen to me! I beg thee tell not thy
wife the truth of the matter for seven years. However caressing she
may be, thou shalt not let her ears know the truth, for if thou _dost_
tell her the truth, both thou and I shall perish!"

"Good!" said he. "I will not tell my wife the truth."

Next morning the young men arose and went to the serpent, and the
prince took leave of his father-in-law, and said he must be going

"But why off so soon?" said the serpent.

"Nay, but I must go," said he.

Then the serpent gave the youth a banquet, and they sat down and ate
and made merry, and after that he departed to his own tsardom. And the
prince thanked Ivan Golik for all that he had done for him, and made
him the first of his counsellors. Whatever Ivan Golik said was
performed throughout the realm, while the Tsar had only to sit on his
throne and do nothing.

So the young prince dwelt with his wife for a year or two, and in the
third year a son was added to them, and the heart of the prince was
glad. Now one day he took his little son in his arms, and said, "Is
there anything in the wide world that I like better than this child?"
When the princess saw that the heart of her spouse was tender, she
fell a-kissing and caressing him, and began asking him all about the
time when they were first married, and how he had been able to do her
father's commands. And the prince said to her, "My head would long ago
have been mouldering on the posts of thy father's palace had it not
been for Ivan Golik. 'Twas he who did it all and not I."

Then she was very wrath. But she never changed countenance, and
shortly afterward she went out.

Ivan Golik was sitting in his own house at his ease, when the princess
came flying in to him. And immediately she drew out of the ground a
handkerchief with gold borders, and no sooner had she waved this
serpentine handkerchief, than Ivan fell asunder into two pieces. His
legs remained where they were, but his trunk with his head disappeared
through the roof, and fell seven miles away from the house. And as he
fell he cried, "Oh, accursed one! did I not charge thee not to
confess! Did I not implore thee not to tell thy wife the truth for
seven years! And now I perish and thou also!"

He raised his head and found himself sitting in a wood, and there he
saw an armless man pursuing a hare. He pursued and pursued it, but
though he caught it up, he couldn't catch it, for he had no arms. Then
Ivan Golik caught it and they fell out about it. The armless one said,
"The hare is mine!"--"No," said Ivan Golik, "it is mine!" So they
quarrelled over it, but as one had no legs and the other had no arms,
they couldn't hurt one another. At last the armless one said, "What is
the use of our quarrelling? Let us pull up that oak, and whichever of
us pitches it farthest shall have the hare."

"Good!" said Legless.

Then Armless kicked Legless up to the oak, and Legless pulled it up
and gave it to Armless. Then Armless lay down on the ground and kicked
the oak with his feet three miles off. But Legless threw it seven
miles. Then Armless said, "Take the hare and be my elder brother!"

So they became brothers, and made a wagon between them, and fastened
ropes to it, and while Armless dragged it along Legless drove it. On
they went till they came to a town where a Tsar lived. There they went
up to the church, and planted themselves with their wagon in the place
of beggars, and waited till the Tsarivna came up. And the Tsarivna
said to her court lady, "Take this money, and give it to those poor

The lady was about to go with it when Legless said, "Nay, but let the
Tsarivna give it to us with her own hands."

Then the Tsarivna took the money from her court lady and gave it to
Legless. But he said to her, "Be not angry, but tell me, now,
wherefore art thou so yellow?"

"God made me so," answered she, and then she sighed.

"No," replied Legless. "I know why thou art so yellow. But I can make
thee once more just as God made thee."

Now the Tsar had heard them speaking, and the words of the cripples
moved him strangely. So he had the armless man and the legless man in
the wagon brought to him, and said to them, "Do as you are able."

But Legless said, "O Tsar! let the Tsarivna speak the truth, and
confess openly how she became so yellow!"

Then the father turned to his daughter, and she confessed and said,
"The serpent flew to me, and drew my blood out of my breast."

"When did he fly to thee?" they asked.

"Just before dawn, when the guards were sleeping, he came flying down
my chimney. In he came flying, and lay down beneath the cushions of my

"Stop!" cried Legless; "we'll hide in the straw in thy room, and when
the serpent comes flying in again, thou must cough and wake us."

So they hid them in the straw, and just as the guards had ceased
knocking at the doors as they went their rounds, sparks began to flash
beneath the straw roof, and the Tsarivna coughed. They rushed up to
her, and saw the serpent already nestling beneath the cushions. Then
the Tsarivna leaped out of bed; but Armless lay down on the floor and
kicked Legless on to the cushions, and Legless took the serpent in his
arms and began to throttle it. "Let me go! let me go!" begged the
serpent, "and I'll never fly here again, but will renounce my

But Legless said, "That is but a small thing. Thou must carry us to
the place of healing waters, that I may get back my legs and my
brother here his arms."

"Catch hold of me," said the serpent, "and I'll take you, only torture
me no more."

So Legless clung on to him with his arms and Armless with his feet,
and the serpent flew away with them till he came to a spring. "There's
your healing water!" cried he.

Armless wanted to plunge in straightway, but Legless shrieked, "Wait,
brother! Hold the serpent tight with your legs while I thrust a dry
stick into the spring, and then we shall see whether it really is
healing water."

So he thrust a stick in, and no sooner had it touched the water than
it was consumed as though by fire. Then the pair of them, in their
rage, fell upon that false serpent and almost killed him. They beat
him and beat him till he cried for mercy. "Beat me no more!" cried he;
"the spring of healing water is not very far off!" Then he took them
to another spring. Into this they also dipped a dry stick, and
immediately it burst into flower. Then Armless leaped into the spring
and leaped out again with arms, whereupon he pitched in Legless, who
immediately leaped out again with legs of his own. So they let the
serpent go, first making him promise never to fly to the Tsarivna
again, and then each thanked the other for his friendship, and so they

But Ivan Golik went again to his brother the prince, to see what had
become of him. "I wonder what the princess has done to him?" thought
he. So he went toward that tsardom, and presently he saw not very far
from the roadside, a swineherd tending swine; he was tending swine,
but he himself sat upon a tomb. "I'll go and ask that swineherd what
he's doing there," thought Ivan Golik.

So he went up to the swineherd, and, looking straight into his eyes,
recognized his own brother. And the swineherd looked at him, and
recognized Ivan Golik. There they stood for a long time looking into
each other's eyes, but neither of them spoke a word. At last Ivan
Golik found his voice: "What!" cried he. "Is it thou, O prince, who
art feeding swine? Thou art rightly served! Did I not bid thee, 'Tell
not thy wife the truth for seven years'?"

At this the prince flung himself down at the other's feet, and cried,
"O Ivan Golik! forgive me, and have mercy!"

Then Ivan Golik raised him up by the shoulders and said, "'Tis well
for thee that thou art still in God's fair world! Yet wait a little
while, and thou shalt be Tsar again!"

The prince thereupon asked Ivan Golik how he had got his legs back
again, for the princess had told him how she had cut Ivan Golik in
two. Then Ivan Golik confessed to him that he was his younger brother,
and told him the whole story of his life. So they embraced and kissed
each other, and then the prince said, "'Tis high time I drove these
swine home, for the princess doesn't like being kept waiting for her

"Well," said Ivan Golik, "we'll drive them back together."

"The worst of it, brother, is this," said the prince. "Dost thou see
that accursed pig that leads the others? Well, he will go only up to
the gate of the sty, and there he stands fast as if rooted to the
ground, and until I kiss his bristles he will not move from the spot.
And all the time the princess and the serpents are sitting in the
gallery at tea, and they look on and laugh!"

But Ivan Golik said, "It needs must be so! Kiss it again to-day, and
to-morrow thou shalt kiss it no more!"

Then they drove the swine up to the gates, and Ivan Golik looked to
see what would happen. He saw the princess sitting in the gallery with
six serpents drinking tea, and the accursed pig stuck fast in the
gate, and stretched out its legs and wouldn't go in. The princess
looked on and said, "Look at my fool driving the swine, and now he is
going to kiss the big boar!"

So the poor fellow stooped down and kissed its bristles, and the pig
ran grunting into the courtyard. Then the princess said, "Look! he has
picked up from somewhere an under-herdsman to help him!"

The prince and Ivan Golik drove the pigs into their sty, and then Ivan
Golik said, "Brother, get me twenty poods of hemp and twenty poods of
pitch, and bring them to me in the garden." And he did so. Then Ivan
Golik made him a huge whip of the twenty poods of hemp and the twenty
poods of tar. First he twined tightly a pood of hemp, and tarred it
well with a pood of pitch; round this he plaited another pood of hemp,
and tarred that also with another pood of pitch, till he had used up
the whole forty. By midnight his task was done, and then he laid him
down to sleep. But the prince had gone to sleep long before in the

Early in the morning they rose up again, and Ivan Golik said to him,
"Up till to-day thou hast been a swineherd, and after to-day thou
shalt be a prince again; but first let us drive the swine into the

"Nay, but," said the prince, "the princess has not yet come out upon
the balcony to drink tea with the serpents, and see me kiss the pig
before it goes out, as is her wont." Ivan Golik said to him, "We will
drive the swine out this time too, but it will not be thou but I who
shall kiss the big boar."

"Good!" said the prince.

And now the time came for the swine to be driven away, and the
princess came out on the balcony to drink tea. They took the swine out
of the sty, and the pair of them drove the beasts before them. When
they reached the gate the leading pig stuck fast in the gateway, and
wouldn't budge an inch. The princess and the serpents grinned and
looked on, but Ivan Golik flicked his heroic whip, and struck the pig
one blow that made it fly to pieces. Then all the serpents wriggled
off as fast as they could. But she, the accursed one, was in no way
frightened, but caught Ivan by the hair of his head. He, however,
caught her also by her long locks, and flicked her with his whip till
he had flicked all the serpent-blood out of her, and she walked the
earth in human guise. So she cast off her serpent nature, and lived
happily with her husband. And that's the end of the _kazka_.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

  Illustrations have been moved closer to their relevant paragraphs.

  The page numbers in the List of Illustrations do not reflect the new
  placement of the illustrations, but are as in the original.

  Author's archaic and variable spelling and hyphenation is

  Author's punctuation style is preserved.

  Passages in italics indicated by _underscores_.

  Typographical problems have been changed and are listed below.

Transcriber's Changes:

  =Equals signs= are used to highlight changes made in the following

  Page  18: Was '"Oh!".' (in the self-same forest, sat him down, and
            said, ="Oh!"= Oh immediately came out of the charred

  Page  64: Added closing double-quote (handkerchief thou findest
            there, and throw it in front of =me."= He drew it out and
            flung it)

  Page 115: Added closing double-quote (carried off his daughter, and
            worries him to =death."=--"Show me the way to your

  Page 161: Added opening double-quote ("Have no fear of that!"
            replied the old couple. ="We= have a dog called Chutko)

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